SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen jailed five people for up to 10 years on Wednesday for their part in an al Qaeda suicide bombing last year that killed more than 90 soldiers rehearsing for a military parade.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - one of the most active franchises of the Islamist group - claimed responsibility for the bombing as part of its on-going campaign against the strategically positioned state which is a major concern for Western governments.
"Five of the defendants have been confirmed to have taken part in the suicidal operation," said presiding judge Hilal Hamed Mahfal, reading out the verdicts.
He acquitted three defendants and released three more due to time already served, on condition that they stay under police surveillance for a year.
He also ordered an investigation of three former senior security officials, including a nephew of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, for failing to protect the soldiers.
The United States sees Yemen - on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula - as its front line in combating al Qaeda. Intelligence pointing to an impending attack by AQAP prompted the temporary closure of U.S. and other Western embassies in the region and beyond in August.
Last month, a court sentenced three al Qaeda members to jail for plotting to kill President Hadi and targeting foreign diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador to Yemen.
On Monday, Yemeni special forces retook an army base hours after al Qaeda militants disguised as security personnel seized the site in southeast Yemen, killing at least four soldiers.
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)