The car bomb was detonated beside people queuing to enroll in the police force, police officials said.
Witnesses said the blast was heard across the city and a large plume of smoke was seen
The bomber parked his vehicle in the middle of the road and then boarded another that was waiting for him, said AbdulBari Al Shamiri, a witness to the explosion.
“As soon as he left the scene, everyone 100 meters from the explosion was killed or injured,” Al Shamiri said.
No group has so far said it was behind the blast. However, jihadist militants belonging to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have in the past targeted the security forces.
“The situation is catastrophic. We arrived to find bodies piled on top of each other,” a paramedic at the scene told Reuters as ambulances took casualties away.
“We found the top part of one person yelling, while his bottom half was completely severed.”
A policeman told Reuters that another car had been passing as the bomb went off and was set on fire along with everyone inside.
The Interior Ministry said it was halting registration at the police college, which takes place every year, for a week.
On Jan. 1 a suicide bomber killed at least 26 people at a cultural center in the central Yemeni city of Ibb in an attack that appeared to target the Houthi Shi’ite Muslim militia that seized the capital in September and advanced into other areas.
Most attacks in the past four years have targeted Yemen’s security infrastructure. A suicide bomber killed more than 90 people in May 2012 at a military parade, and a coordinated assault on a military hospital a year ago killed more than 50.