SANAA - Hundreds of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa Saturday to protest attacks by Al-Qaeda, including a bombing at a police academy that killed dozens.

The demonstration organised by a youth group calling itself the Rafd (Rejection) Movement also protested against the presence of Shiite militiamen in Sanaa and other parts of the country, an AFP reporter said. The protesters rallied outside the police academy where a car bomb tore through dozens of Yemenis Wednesday as the were lined up to enrol as recruits, killing 40 people and wounding 71.

Yemen’s top security body has blamed Al-Qaeda for the attack and security forces have arrested five suspects, but a leader of the group had denied the organisation was involved. ‘Al-Qaeda has nothing to do with the incident,’ Sheikh Saleh Abdel Ilah al-Dahab said on Twitter, accusing the Shiite Huthi militia that overran Sanaa in September of being behind the bombing. Impoverished Yemen has been hit by a wave of violence in recent months, with the powerful Shiite militia clashing with Sunni tribal forces and the country’s branch of Al-Qaeda. Unrest grew after the Huthis, also known as Ansarullah, overran Sanaa.

They have since expanded their presence in central and western Yemen.

The protesters chanted slogans hostile to both Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the militant group’s Yemen branch, and Ansarullah. Similar protests took place in the central city of Ibb and in Taez, Yemen’s third-largest city, residents said.