SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Two explosions on a busy street in Yemen's capital wounded 20 people on Thursday, the Interior Ministry said, in the latest episode of violence to hit the troubled Arab nation.
Residents were unharmed in the first blast, but as a group gathered around the site of the explosion a second blast struck, wounding 20, a security official said, adding that the explosives had been hidden underneath a pile of trash. He released the information on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The country has been rocked by turmoil over the past two years and is fighting al-Qaeda's local branch, also known as the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The group seized significant swaths of territory during political upheaval in 2011 that led to the ouster of longtime autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The new U.S.-backed president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, spoke out against Saleh in a speech Thursday. Hadi, who was Saleh's vice president before taking power in a deal brokered by Gulf Arab powers, hailed Yemen's Arab Spring uprising as the end of an "era of family inheritance" — a reference to Saleh's nearly three decades of rule in which he stacked key security posts with relatives.
His comments come as national dialogue talks aimed at mapping out the country's future are underway. Some delegates in the dialogue have suggested a 30 percent quota for women on the panel that the president will appoint to write a constitution. Other delegates have called for broader use of Islamic law in the new charter, which has yet to be drafted.
Religious hardliners hold sway however in Yemen, a religiously conservative country. Influential hardliner Abdul-Majeed el-Zidani on Thursday called for a stronger a role for Islamic law in the country's new constitution.
Though not a participant of the national dialogue, el-Zidani, a leader of the main opposition Islah Party, said the constitution must strengthen its wording to surpass current language citing Islam as the basis of laws.
Speaking to students at the religious Iman University, el-Zidani said Islamic law must be the only source of legislation and that the constitution should state its rejection of any laws that counter "the laws of God."