By Michaela del Callar
MANILA, 6Dec2013 (PNA) – Seven Filipino medical workers, including a doctor, were among the 52 killed in a terrorist attack in Yemen’s Defense Ministry complex on Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
The incident, which happened just months after Manila lifted its travel and labor ban to Yemen, is one of the deadliest attacks on overseas Filipino workers to date.
“We condemn this senseless and barbaric act and we call on the Yemeni government to bring the mastermind to justice and take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of Filipinos and other foreigners,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a press conference Friday.
Hernandez said 11 other Filipinos sustained minor injuries, but were “shaken and traumatized.”
One Filipino sustained head injury which required surgery, said Hernandez. All are working at a hospital located inside the ministry’s complex.
Hernandez said the names of the victims will not be disclosed until their families have been informed.
Based on accounts of some survivors, the incident started around 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The first suicide bomber who tried to enter the ministry premises detonated his explosive at the gate.
Another one was apprehended before he could enter. However, the third suicide bomber managed to break in and detonate his explosives causing the building to collapse.
“Others survived the ensuing gun battle by pretending to be dead,” Hernandez said.
The hospital has about 40 Filipino employees but three are currently on vacation in the Philippines.
All survivors, he said, were taken to a safe place and the situation has already stabilized.
“Yemeni security forces are now in control of the complex,” he said.
Philippine officials, he added, are visiting hospital morgues to check if there are other Filipino fatalities.
Manila has imposed security alert level 1 all over Yemen since 2012 due to the internal disturbance in the country located in Western Asia, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.
At this level, Hernandez said Filipinos are advised to take precautionary measures.
There are nearly 1,000 Filipinos employed as health and construction workers.
“Our citizens should follow the advice of local authorities and take measures to ensure their personal safety,” Hernandez said. (PNA)