The deaths of three Yemeni children -- killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) on their way to school Sunday morning (April 15th) -- have been met with widespread official and popular condemnation in Yemen.
Angry residents say the act, blamed on al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia, runs contrary to true Islam and Yemeni customs and traditions.
Al-Qaeda planted a timed IED -- a barrel packed with explosives and a gas cylinder -- on the side of a road in Qatn city in Hadramawt province, the Yemeni Defence Ministry reported on its website.
The bomb exploded as the children were walking to school, killing brothers Bilal Nasser and Saleh Nasser Ali bin Jazlan and their classmate Naji Mubarak Bashdad, all between the ages of 11 and 12 years old.
"We condemn and deplore all acts of terrorism, but this crime is particularly heinous because it targeted children," said Omair Salem Omair, undersecretary for the Wadi and Sahara directorates of Hadramawt province.
The provincial leadership has received angry reactions to the incident from many residents of Hadramawt and other provinces, all calling for the defeat of these terrorist groups, Omair told Al-Shorfa.
"The manner in which this operation was carried out reveals the barbaric nature of terrorist groups. Its perpetrators are not human beings and have no connection whatsoever to Islam and must receive severest punishment," he said.
Those who kill innocent people, whether children, men or women, are devoid of all human moral values, said Ahmed Arman, a lawyer and human rights activist with the National Organisation for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD).
Such terrorist acts are "deplorable and reprehensible and whoever does not condemn them is injudicious because he would be aligned with deviant inhumane ideas about the nature of human beings and their right to life and peace," Arman said.
Arman called on the government to take tough measures to eradicate the group, which he said violates rights, religion and all local and international laws.
Targeting children is a "revolting crime" and the starkest violation of the rights of children and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, said Raja al-Musaabi, president of the Arab Human Rights Foundation.
"This crime violated the most vital childhood right, and that is the right to life, which in the case of these children who have nothing to do with anything, was forcibly stolen from them," she told Al-Shorfa.
The recklessness of extremist groups has induced them to kill innocent people and violate the provisions of sharia, al-Musaabi said, calling on scholars, clerics and media professionals to intensify educational efforts to combat terrorism and prevent more violence.
"Armed groups that speak in the name of religion are addicted to the use of mines and time bombs in their operations against innocent people, especially children, as is the case with al-Qaeda in Hadramawt and Abyan," said Abdul Salam Mohammed, head of the Abaad Studies and Research Centre .
The entire community must stand up to these groups because what they did was "a heinous crime proscribed by local and international laws" and all religions, especially Islam, he said.
"These groups are losing support among the population by the day for their random killing of children and innocent people in general," Mohammed said.
"Islam forbids the shedding of Muslim blood in general, let alone children killed on their way to school, which makes this a most heinous crime deplored by scholars and all segments of society," Sheikh Zayd bin Abdul Rahman, chairman of the Al-Noor Centre for Study and Research, told Al-Shorfa. "We must not stop at condemning it, but mobilise efforts to confront this danger."