Al-Qaida claims attack on Yemen Shiites

Al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing killing Shiite tribesmen in northern Yemen.

In a statement appearing Sunday on extremist websites, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula described the Shiites as "despicable plants" to be uprooted, according to the SITE Intelligence Unit, which monitors such sites.

On Wednesday, a suicide car bomber struck a convoy of Shiites in northern Yemen killing 17.

Extremist Sunnis despise Shiites and consider them heretics.

Though an estimated 15-30 percent of the population is Shiite, Yemen has been spared the sectarian warfare once common in Iraq.

The Hawthi Shiite tribesman in Yemen, however, have waged an on-and-off struggle against the government for the last six years.