Suicide bomber, gunmen kill 52 in Yemen
A suicide bomber and gunmen wearing army uniforms targeted the ministry compound in the capital Sanaa in the worst single attack in Yemen for 18 months.
Yemen has been grappling with al Qaeda-linked militants who have repeatedly attacked government officials and installations over the past two years.
The security threat is an international concern. The U.S.-allied country shares a long border with Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, and the branch of al Qaeda that is based there has plotted attacks against Western targets.
The attack on Thursday began as ministry employees were arriving for work when a vehicle exploded at the compound's gate, two sources inside the ministry said.
"The attack took place shortly after working hours started at the ministry, when a suicide bomber drove a car into the gate," the Defence Ministry source said.
The massive blast shook the bustling Bab al-Yemen neighbourhood on the edge of Sanaa's old city, a warren of market stalls and stone tower houses decorated with stained glass windows and ornate plasterwork.
Smoke billowed over the area, where the country's central bank is also located.
"The explosion was very violent, the whole place shook because of it and plumes of smoke rose from the building," said an employee who works in a nearby building.
Security forces retook the compound after killing most of the attackers, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on its website, making no reference to a suicide attacker.
Medics and a Defence Ministry official said the gunmen pulled a Western doctor and a Filipina nurse into the hospital's courtyard and shot them in front of local staff.
A medical source who works at one of the hospitals where some of the victims were taken told Reuters the dead included two female Yemeni doctors, a Filipino surgeon, a Western doctor and four foreign nurses from India and the Philippines were gunned down.
"He (the Secretary General) recalls that the Security Council has reaffirmed its readiness to consider further measures in response to any actions by individuals or parties that are aimed at disrupting the transition process," the statement read.