Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Attempt at the life of Saleh in South Yemen, north still very tense with occcasional fights

 Yemeni army convoy. Photo Yemen Times Archive.

Yemen is still far from quiet. In the south there was an attempt to kill preisdnet Ali Abdallah Saleh, when his presidenteial convoy was attacked. And in the north, where till February a war with the Houthi rebels was going on, tension is still very high with the possibility that any moment a new round of figfhting coulod start.  
In the attack on the presidential convoy an army official died and four others were injured. Th attack occcurred at Al-Habelain, Lahj, 337 km southwest of Sana’a, according to local sources. One of the armed attackers, Mohsen Abdulla Obaid, was killed and another was injured. A civilian was also injured as a car from the convoy ran him over, according to an official source.
Al-Habelain is one of the strongholds of the Southern Movement which is calling for secession. It has been the site of frequent clashes between soldiers and supporters of the Southern Movement. President Saleh himself was not present during the attack. He had already left for Taiz in a private helicopter. The same source said that soldiers at military positions in Al-Habelain used artillery to attack surrounding areas. People were seen running to take cover. The security force arrested three relatives of Obaid, according to local sources in Lahj.

Sadeq Ameen Abu Ras, the Prime Minister Deputy for Interior Affairs, said that he was a target of an assassination attempt in Shabwa, 458 km from Sana’a. Abu Ras told the AFP that an armed group targeted his convoy and fired at them. Locals in Shabwa said the he was targeted when he was attending a festival in Azzan, Shabwa, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of unification.

 The destrcution in the northern capital Sa'ada was considerable. The text on this daamaged wall reads:  'This is the destruction that was the work of American and Saudi planes.'

In the north of the country tension remains high after a cease fire was concluded in February. The government’s conditions for the truce included the Houthis’ withdrawal from official buildings and abandoning military posts they had seized; reopening roads; returning weapons seized from security services; freeing all military and civilian prisoners; respecting the law and the constitution and pledging not to attack Saudi Arabia. But since the truce was struck, the two sides continued to exchange accusations of breaching the ceasefire.

Yemen’s interior ministry on Tuesday accused the rebels of kidnapping four soldiers in the northern province of al Jawf and on Monday two Yemeni soldiers and an unstated number of Houthi fighters were killed in northern Amran province, the first such clash since the February 12 agreement. Although sporadic clashes between the rebels and neighbouring tribes loyal to Yemen’s government have been reported since the truce was enforced, this was the first clash with the army.

Reports from the field are showing the three-month-old truce is under severe pressure.“The situation is very tense and everyone’s hand is on the trigger. A seventh wave [of fighting] is eminent at any time,” said a soldier who has visited Sa’ada this week.Also there are reports that the Houthi rebels have occupied schools. The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) expressed concerns over the reports. “Unicef is deeply concerned about reports that schools in the northern governorate of Sa’ada were occupied by armed men, and that children are denied their right to education,” Geert Cappelaere, Unicef’s representative in Yemen, said in a statement last Wednesday.  According to the education ministry office in Sa’ada, only about 30,000 of the 121,000 children once enrolled in Sa’ada’s 725 schools are now attending classes. About 213 schools were damaged during the conflict.
The Houthi rebels, however, denied they are using schools as bases in Sa’ada province in order to press the government to release northern prisoners who are still held by Sanaa. “It is not true we are occupying schools. What shall we do with schools? Such information is groundless,” said Mohammed Abdulsalam, the rebel spokesman, by phone from Sa’ada. “How can we occupy schools to demand the release of our prisoners? This is ridiculous. The government is reluctant to operate the schools and send teachers back,” he added.

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