Yemeni riot police charge towards anti-government demonstrators during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. Anti-government demonstrators clashed with supporters of Yemen's longtime ruler and riot police, who fired tear gas and shots in the air to disperse the crowd on what organizers called a "Friday of Rage" across the country. In the city of Taiz, what appeared to be a hand grenade was thrown at a group of protesters, seriously wounding at least eight people in the blast and stampede that followed, witnesses said. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Yemen officials say 78 people were killed in a blast at an explosives factory after it was briefly taken over by militants and then looted by civilians.
Medical and security officials in the southern Abyan province where the blast took place Monday said many women and children from surrounding villages were killed and wounded in the attack.
On Sunday, Islamic fundamentalist militants took over the factory, which was near the town of Jaar and used to make explosives for road construction.
The militants took what they needed and then left. Locals then entered the facility to loot it, said officials.
Another 27 people were injured critically in addition to the dozens of others wounded.
Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.