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Dispatches: An Overshadowed Atrocity

While yesterday’s violence in Paris has rightly created profound international shock and outrage, another – even more deadly – attack by apparent Islamist militants on the same day has been overlooked.

In the capital of Yemen, Sanaa, at least 37 people were killed and 66 others injured by a bomb blast outside a police academy that was clearly targeting prospective cadets who had lined up in readiness to enroll. As yet, no one has claimed responsibility for the Sanaa attack but it bears the hallmarks of many others that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has carried out in Yemen in recent years.

AQAP attacks have become more frequent since September 2014, when the Houthis, a Zaidi Shia armed group from northern Yemen whose forces have clashed with AQAP, took control of the capital and signed a peace deal with the government. Since then, the Houthis have maintained military checkpoints across the capital, positioned their own fighters at the entrances of government buildings, and deployed groups of fighters in various parts of the city. AQAP has been targeting some of these locations as part of a campaign against the Houthis, making life for Sanaa’s resident fraught with danger.

While the Houthi presence seems to have caused an upsurge in AQAP attacks on the capital, AQAP has been carrying out attacks for years, including many unlawful attacks on civilians. Since the Houthi presence in Sanaa, one of the largest attacks took place on October 9, 2014, when an AQAP suicide bomber killed at least 42 people as Houthi protesters were gathering in Sanaa’s Tahrir Square.

Sadly, AQAP attacks such as that carried out in Sanaa on January 7 have become so commonplace that they do not trigger even a fraction of the international attention and sympathy as the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris rightly did. But for the victims and their families, the pain and the grief are no less.

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