Militants stormed the Defense Ministry in the heart of Yemen's capital Thursday, killing 52 people, including at least seven foreigners, in a suicide car bombing and assault by gunmen. The brazen, al-Qaeda-style attack in Sana'a follows a rise in U.S. drone strikes in this key American ally in the Middle East.

The two-stage operation came as the defense minister was in Washington for talks. The U.S. military increased its regional alert status after the attack and is "fully prepared to support our Yemeni partners," a senior U.S. defense official said.

At least 167 people were wounded, nine seriously, in the bombing and fierce firefight, which underscored the ability of insurgents to take advantage of Yemen's instability and tenuous security - even at the headquarters of its military.

- AP