A bomber targets a mourning ceremony in the southern town of Jaar, which state troops recently recaptured from Al Qaeda militants
Witnesses in the southern town of Jaar said the attacker blew himself up during a mourning ceremony organised in honour of the relative of an army leader.
The town was recently recaptured from al Qaeda militants by state forces.
“Twenty people have been killed and 20 others wounded,” Governor Jamal al Aqal said in a statement on the defence ministry’s website.
Officials have opened an investigation to establish a final death toll, and to identify the author of this “criminal and cowardly” attack, the statement added.
“The suicide bomber belonged to the al Qaeda network,” one witness said, adding that he believed it was in retaliation for local fighters assistance to Yemeni troops.
The Yemeni army announced in mid-June that it had recaptured Jaar and Zinjibar, the Abyan province’s capital, from al Qaeda fighters who had held it since May.
But on Wednesday, an attack by militants on a police station in Jaar killed two soldiers and a civilian. Locals have expressed fears that the extremists could retake the town.
Meanwhile in a separate incident in the east of the country, a suspected US drone strike killed five al Qaeda members.
Local officials said the drone fired missiles at an all-terrain vehicle near the village of al Qotn, in the Hadramut province, which killed all of its occupants.
After the strike, witnesses said security forces surrounded the site and sealed it off.
The US is the only country that has drones in the region and in recent months it has been carrying out strikes on al Qaeda targets in the south and east of the country, and in the Arabian peninsula.
Al Qaeda militants have carried out several deadly attacks against Yemeni security services since President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who has repeatedly vowed to battle extremists, came to power this year.