Top Yemeni official assassinated as security vacuum deepens

Top Yemeni official assassinated as security vacuum deepens
Hadhramaut security official killed by gunmen, as Houthis continue to reject international calls for the group to cede power in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
4 min read
17 February, 2015
Houthi militiamen are in control of Sanaa [Getty]

A Yemeni security official and his bodyguard were killed on Tuesday in Yemen's southeastern Hadhramaut province, as different groups, including the Houthi movement, forces allied to President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and others controlled by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, continue to vie with one another for control.

Two men opened fire from a motorbike at the car of Colonel Murad al-Amoudi, the deputy director of criminal investigation in the provincial capital of Mukalla.

Both the colonel and his bodyguard were killed instantly and the assailants fled.

Hadhramaut, Yemen's biggest province, has witnessed numerous assassinations of security and military officials carried out by unknown gunmen, with al-Qaeda and various political groups accused of being behind the attacks.

The assassinations come as Yemen continues to be rocked by political upheaval. Negotiations between the Houthis, who have taken over the country's state institutions and control the capital and several northern provinces, and parties opposed to them continue to look fruitless.

The Houthi movement have responded to international calls for them to decamp from Yemen's capital with defiance, as reports emerge that President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who tendered his resignation in late December and is under effective house arrest in Sanaa, is ill and requires medical treatment abroad.

The UN Security Council had adopted a resolution unanimously on Sunday urging the predominantly Zaydi Shia Houthis to relinquish power, release Hadi and several other top officials, and negotiate in good faith.

This followed a statement issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of Yemen's Gulf Arab neighbours, which had demanded that Chapter Seven of the UN Charter be implemented, which would allow armed force to be used by the international community to implement the resolution. The Security Council resolution stopped short of invoking Chapter Seven.

The Houthis on Monday said that the UN Security Council should “respect the will and sovereignty of the Yemeni people, and to be accurate and objective”.

They also told the Council “not to follow the lead of regional powers that aim tirelessly to eliminate the will of the Yemeni people in a flagrant violation of international conventions that criminalise meddling in internal affairs”.

The statement from the “Supreme Revolutionary Committee”, a body the Houthis regard as the highest authority in Yemen, was reffering to the GCC statement.

“The revolution does not target our brothers in the Gulf Cooperation Council; not now, nor in the future,” said the statement.

The Houthis dissolved parliament on February 6, announcing that they would instead appoint a national council which would in turn appoint a five-man presidential council.

Houthi abuses

Also on Tuesday, a man and a woman were injured by bullets fired by Houthi militiamen in Arhab, north of Sanaa, tribal sources told Anadolu.

The two were injured after locals had confronted the Houthi militiamen, who were set to blow up a house in the area. Houthi militiamen have blown up properties belonging to their opponents in the past, justifying the moves by saying that the properties are used to store weapons.

There is increased anger in Yemen at human rights violations committed by the Houthis, with protests becoming a regular occurrence around the country, often broken up by armed men in areas controlled by the Houthis.

In the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, dozens of locals protested in front of the governor's building on Tuesday, calling for the release of activists detained by the Houthis. Hodeida is controlled by the Houthis.

Amnesty International said on Monday that they have received testimonies documenting the use of torture by Houthi militiamen.

Salah al-Bashri, a 35-year-old activist, died from injuries he sustained during his detention by the Houthis, after he was picked up on an anti-Houthi protest on February 11.

“The Houthis stooped to a dangerous new level of intimidation and violence to strike fear into anyone protesting their rule,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

“Testimonies reveal how protesters have been detained and tortured for days on end,” Rovera, who is currently in Yemen said. “The safety of all those who dare to speak out against the Houthi rule is on the line.”