SAN’A, Yemen — Yemeni authorities on Monday said that al-Qaida was behind a suicide bombing that killed four South Korean tourists and their Yemeni driver at a historical site.
A security official, meanwhile, said 12 Islamist suspects were arrested in connection with Sunday’s attack near the ancient fortress city of Shibam.
The official said those arrested are members of jihadi groups believed to have information about the actual masterminds of the bombing. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media.
Initially, there were discrepancies about the blast. Some Yemeni officials said it was a roadside bombing, but the Interior Ministry on Monday said in a statement that it was a suicide blast carried out by an al-Qaida member.
“It was a deliberate act of terrorism by a suicide bomber belonging to al-Qaida,” said a ministry statement. The statement didn’t elaborate, but it said the ministry has some clues which might help identify the attacker.
The security official earlier said that human remains were found at the site, believed to be the bomber’s.
Another security official from Hadramut province, where the bombing took place, said an ID card was found on location likely belonging to the bomber. This official also spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason.
An impoverished country on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, Yemen is also Osama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland and has long been a center of militant activity despite government efforts to fight al-Qaida and other extremists.
Yemen has seen several deadly attacks on foreign diplomats, the U.S. Embassy, other Western targets and military installations in the country.
In Jan. 2008, suspected al-Qaida militants opened fire on a convoy of tourists in Hadramut, killing two Belgians and their Yemeni driver. A suicide bomber detonated his car among tourists at an ancient temple in central Yemen in July 2007, killing eight Spaniards and two Yemenis.