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Yemeni Soldiers Hold Somber Ceremony After Suicide Attack

Military academy cadets march during a parade marking the 22nd anniversary of Yemen's reunification in Sanaa May 22, 2012.
Yemeni soldiers somberly marched in a National Day parade on Tuesday, one day after a suicide bomber killed at least 96 troops and wounded more than 200 during a rehearsal for the parade.

Al-Qaida's wing in Yemen said Monday's bomb attack was revenge for what the group called a U.S.-backed war on its followers.

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi watched Tuesday from behind a bulletproof glass shield as a smaller parade was moved to the grounds of the air force academy in Sana'a. He made no public comment.

The French news agency reports that Yemen's Army chief of staff Ali al-Ashwal warned al-Qaida that the "war" against them would continue,

"The barbaric attack on Sabeen Square will not scare us and will not prevent us from going ahead with our war on these evil elements," Ashwal told onlookers. "Our war on them will not stop until we free our land."

Turkish Ambassador Fazli Corman, who attended the ceremony, told the Reuters news agency: "Everyone was relieved at the end that it went safely, there was not a celebratory atmosphere, it was solemn."

Al-Qaida's local affiliate said Yemen's top military commanders were a target of Monday's attack. The defense minister and chief of staff both were at the rehearsal but were unharmed.

Yemen's government is carrying out a U.S.-backed offensive against Islamist militants who seized southern regions last year as the country was engulfed in an uprising against then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Al-Qaida has warned of more attacks if the government offensive continues.

In Monday's bombing, Yemeni officials say a man wearing the uniform of the Central Security Forces detonated explosives as hundreds of fellow troops lined up to rehearse for the military parade to mark the 22nd anniversary of unification of Yemen's north and south.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said Washington is very worried about al-Qaida terrorism and extremism in Yemen. He said Yemen's poverty and instability attracts extremists. Obama said the U.S. will continue to work with the government in Sana'a to identify al-Qaida "leadership and operations and try to thwart them."