Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yemen's Karman slams Russia, China over Syria vote

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yemeni activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman says Russia and China bear moral responsibility for killings in Syria and is urging governments to expel Syrian ambassadors.

Karman spoke at the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of security officials, on Sunday — a day after Moscow and Beijing vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at ending Syria's bloodshed.

Their vote came amid international outrage over a devastating bombardment of the city of Homs by President Bashar Assad's forces.

Karman says "those two countries bear the moral and human responsibility for these massacres."

She urged governments to expel Syrian ambassadors and withdraw their own ambassadors from Damascus, saying "that is the minimum you can do to punish this regime."

Fighting over captured Yemeni city kills five

Sun Feb 5, 2012

ADEN (Reuters) - Four Islamists linked to al Qaeda and a government soldier have been killed in clashes in southern Yemen, security sources said on Sunday, hours after the breakdown of a short-lived ceasefire designed to pacify the area ahead of a presidential election.

The clashes between militants from Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) and government forces broke out late on Saturday on the outskirts of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, which militants seized last May.

The capture of the coastal city has increased the vulnerability of Yemen's second city, Aden, security experts say. The United States and Saudi Arabia are particularly concerned that emboldened militants linked to al Qaeda could threaten nearby oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.

Zinjibar has been nearly destroyed in regular clashes between the government and Islamist militants in the past eight months. Tens of thousands fled and are now refugees in nearby Aden and Lahej.

Tribesmen and residents said government mediators on Saturday forged a ceasefire with militants in an effort to create a peaceful environment for voting on February 21, but militants denied they had made any such agreement.

"They (the government) wanted to hold negotiations with Ansar al-Sharia, but (we) refused," a representative of the Islamist group told Reuters.

Diplomats hope the elections, agreed as part of a deal to ease President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office, will pull the country back from the brink of civil war. Over the last year, militants have exploited lawlessness that accompanied protests against Saleh's 33-year rule to seize towns like Zinjibar and Radda in Yemen's mountainous interior.

Authorities had opted for negotiations in Zinjibar after it became clear that the military option was "not viable," a government official in Sanaa told Reuters, especially given that the army had been weakened by divisions between supporters of the uprising and Saleh loyalists.

"Because of the split in the army and the political crisis, the military solution did not succeed in Abyan... Tribal negotiations may help get the al Qaeda members out of Abyan as they did in the city of Radda," he said.

Militants quit Radda, around 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Sanaa, in exchange for the release of jailed comrades and the formation of a council to govern the town.

But such a solution would be difficult to replicate in Abyan province where militants are firmly entrenched.

Highlighting the fragile security situation just weeks before voting, militants on Saturday attacked a Yemeni army base in the south, and elsewhere in Abyan unknown gunmen opened fire on a group of tribesmen, killing one and wounding two. Some tribes have joined forces with the army against the militants.

Two southern activists killed in Yemen

February 5, 2012 share

Two southern activists were killed and seven wounded in clashes with police in the Yemeni province of Hadramut on Sunday, activists said.

They said the clashes took place in the city of Mukalla as security forces intervened to evacuate a police station overrun by activists opposed to Yemen's presidential election of February 21.

Security forces recaptured the police station after activists had released detained colleagues, a police source said.

The operation resulted in clashes that left one activist dead and eight wounded, the source said. Activists said one of the wounded later died in hospital.

Late on Friday, armed clashes between supporters and opponents of the presidential election left dozens of people wounded in the main southern city of Aden.

The violence erupted when supporters of the Southern Movement, a separatist group, attacked a march organized by rivals from a year-old protest movement against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an activist said.

Some factions of the Movement have been campaigning for a boycott of the election, which they say fails to meet their aspirations for autonomy or southern independence.

Saleh's deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, himself a southerner, is the sole candidate in the election to succeed the veteran strongman who is standing down after more than three decades in power.

Nationwide protests erupted against Saleh's regime in January last year, triggering months of bloodshed.