Updated on Dec. 5 at 6:30 a.m EST.
A suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosive into the gate of Yemen’s Defense Ministry on Thursday, killing 18 soldiers and wounding at least 40, according to military and hospital officials.
A carload of heavily armed attackers arrived minutes after the blast, in an apparent bid to take over the complex in downtown Sanaa, the Associated Press reports.
In the ensuing firefight with Yemeni troops, as many as 12 gunmen were killed.
Even though no one immediately claimed responsibility for the strike, it bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, whose Yemen outfit is considered among the world’s most active.
Violence regularly strikes Yemen, where secessionists, al-Qaeda-linked militants and rebels all challenge the interim government, in place since President Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted in 2011.
This post has been updated to reflect the rising death toll.