Shi'ite Houthi rebels carry a dead man at the scene of a suicide attack in Sanaa
Shi'ite Houthi rebels carry a dead man at the scene of a suicide attack in SanaaReuters

A suicide attack targeting a Shi'ite Houthi checkpoint in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa has caused at least 42 deaths, including several children.

The incident took place after a man wearing a suicide belt blew himself up in Tahrir Square in central Sanaa, which is under control of the Shi'ite group.

A policeman told Reuters that the man exploded among the Houthi security and ordinary people. The incident appears to have been carried out by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Doctors at the nearby police hospital sent urgent calls for physicians to help cope with a high number of casualties.

A photographer working for AFP described seeing the bodies of four children amid the carnage

The development came after Yemen's new prime minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak resigned after the Houthis, who seized the capital Sanaa last month, called for mass protests against a purported foreign interference that was behind his appointment.

Bin Mubarak, nominated by president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, was expected to lead the new government which is to be formed as part of a deal with the Houthis. But the rebel leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi said that his group had been surprised by Bin Mubarak's appointment. He called the president a "puppet" after he met the US ambassador to the Yemen.

Bin Mubarak said he took this decision "in a bid to preserve the national unity and protect the country from divisions".

The Houthis, a minority Zaidi Shia community, has waged armed struggle against the government in the past ten years in the hope of winning greater autonomy for their northern province of Saada. It says its followers are discriminated against by central government.

While the group was initially incorporated in the country's transitional dialogue, which followed the ouster of former president Saleh, the Houthis were eventually frozen out of the political process and returned to waging an armed campaign.