Seven Filipinos slain in Yemen attack
A car burns at the site of a suicide attack on the defence ministry in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on December 5, 2013
Foreign Department spokesman Raul Hernandez said workers "pretended to be dead" to survive Thursday's assault, which left 12 other Filipinos injured with one requiring surgery.
His toll of Filipino fatalities is significantly higher than the report by Yemen's Saba news agency, which reported just two Filipina nurses were among the 52 killed.
"We condemn this senseless and barbaric act and we call on the Yemeni government to bring the masterminds to justice and take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of Filipinos and other foreigners in Yemen," Hernandez told reporters.
A suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into the Yemeni defence ministry complex on Thursday. A second car brought armed militants into the compound, who opened fire on staff.
A hospital within the complex bore the brunt of the attack.
Quoting survivors, Hernandez said a suicide bomber brought down part of the hospital in the blast.
"The other (Filipino casualties) survived the ensuing gun battle by pretending to be dead," he added.
He said that Filipino fatalities included one doctor while the rest were hospital workers, mostly nurses.
Diplomats were also checking hospitals in the area for other Filipino casualties, he added.
Other casualties were from Germany, Vietnam, India, Venezuela, and Yemen, according to Saba news agency and hospital reports.
The agency said 167 people were wounded, nine of them seriously.
The Philippines has almost a thousand nationals working in Yemen, Hernandez said.
They are part of an army of about 10 million Filipinos who have travelled abroad to seek work, earning more than they could get in their impoverished homeland.
The money they send home is a pillar of the local economy and is nearly equivalent to about 10 percent of the Philippines' gross domestic product.
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