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There are reports of a gun battle in the complex, but these have not yet been verified by security sources.
A defence ministry official speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press told Xinhua news agency that the explosions were caused by suicide car bombings that damaged part of the wall of the ministry at the Bab Al-Yaman district in the sector of the old city.
Yemen has been rocked by violence in the past few years as some tribes in the country’s south claim they have been unfairly treated by the Sanaa government and demand secession. There have been other clashes in other parts of the country over economic disparity.
The growing separatist movement is threatening to divide the country as an Islamist uprising is directly challenging the government’s legitimacy. There are also fears of growing sectarian strife as a conflict between hardline Salafist Sunni groups and the majority Shia community widens.
In late October, sectarian fighting in Dammaj town in Saada province left more than 100 people dead.
The defence ministry blast comes just one day after three soldiers and a protester were killed when tribesmen held up a convoy of oil tankers in the northwest and then clashed with the army.
Authorities are also dealing with a persistent Al-Qaeda threat.
On December 2, three soldiers were killed when Yemeni troops fought a pitched gun battle with Al-Qaeda affiliated militia in the town of Seyoun in Hadramawt, a province in the southeast, the interior ministry said.