Monday, March 19, 2012

Fighting between Houthis and Islah party in Yemen

By Fatik Al-Rodaini
SANA'A, March 19, 2012- About 16 people were wounded, some seriously injured on Monday evening in fighting erupted between members from Islah Party (pro Sunni), backed by soldiers from First Armored Division and Houthis (pro Shite) at Sana'a University's Change Square where thousands of anti-government have been protested since the beginning of the last year.
Eyewitnesses said the fighting started when some members from Islah party, and soldiers attacked a tent belonged to protesters from Houthis trying to take him to the headquarters of First Armored Division.
The Houthis group office said that militias of Islah party launched attack unjust and unwarranted brutal on the youth because they demanded the reveal of killers who committed the massacre of Friday dignity which at least 52 people were killed and about 200 wounded on March 18, 2011.

The Houthis have accused the Islamist Islah party – the main party in the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) – of being involved with fighting at Sana'a University's Change Square.

Gunmen kill 3 Yemeni soldiers, army holds 6 Somalis

March 19, 2012
ADEN (Reuters) – Gunmen crept into an army barracks in southern Yemen early on Monday before killing three sleeping soldiers and wounding two, a security official said.
 “The gunmen snuck into the area and killed the soldiers as they were asleep early this morning,” the official told Reuters. He blamed al Qaeda for the attack on the barracks in Dalea province, north of the port city of Aden.
The Interior Ministry announced separately that the army had detained six Somali nationals who it said were members of al Qaeda at a security checkpoint in Abyan province, also in southern Yemen.
The men were taken to nearby Aden province for investigation, the ministry said, without giving details.
The United States and Yemen’s oil-rich neighbour Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, are concerned about al Qaeda’s expansion in Yemen, where it has regrouped after suffering reverses in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Al Qaeda violence has intensified since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February vowing to fight the Islamist network, which exploited months of protests against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize swathes of territory.
Gunmen linked to al Qaeda shot dead an American teacher in Yemen on Sunday, accusing him of Christian “proselytising.”
Government troops clash almost daily with militants in areas they control in the south, and at times with armed supporters of a southern separatist movement which has also stepped up its activities in the past year.

US urges justice over American killed in Yemen

March 19, 2012
Agence France Presse
WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday condemned the killing of an American in Yemen and urged authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable after Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.
The State Department confirmed that Joel Shrum, an American working for the non-governmental International Training Development Center, was shot dead on Sunday in Taez and said it was working to repatriate his remains.
"We condemn this terrorist act in strongest terms and we express our deepest condolences to his family and his friends," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
"We are urging Yemeni authorities to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime," she said.
A statement attributed to Al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack and accused Shrum of proselytizing Christianity in the Islamic nation.
Waldemar Braun, the director of the non-governmental group, denied the allegations and said Shrum was a development worker who "highly respected" Islam.
Braun said that Muslims and Christians work together at the center which has "continually focused on human development, skill transfer and community development."
The United States says the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the most active branch of the global extremist network once led by Osama bin Laden.
Two days before Shrum's killing, an official said that suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen abducted a Swiss woman elsewhere in Yemen.

Yemen al-Qaeda seeks ransom for abducted Swiss national

Chiara Onassis | 19 March 2012 |
SANA’A: Amidst new reports of violence credited to al-Qaeda, an Islamic terror group which is quickly gaining ground in Yemen with the death of an American national in Taiz, Yemen’s second city, security sources revealed that Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda was now demanding a ransom of $1.2 million against the release of abducted Swiss woman, Sylvia Abrahat.
The Swiss national, a language teacher, was kidnapped last week in the western sea-port of Hodeida where officials admitted that a breakdown in security had allowed gangs and criminals to flourish.
Sylvia was transported by her abductors across 3 provinces to the oil-rich and restive Shabwa, where al-Qaeda militants have established yet another stronghold.
A local sheikh told that a tribal mediation committee had been set in place to negotiate the woman’s release, revealing that Ansar al-Sharia was now demanding a monetary compensation.
Analysts noted that the group’s demand was novel, as usually it sought to free its militants rather than seek financial gain. “The move could underscore the group’s alliance with tribal elements, which in exchange for their allegiance, would demand monetary incentive. Since the central government is not in a position to continue its tribal patronage (or maybe wishes to end the practice), tribal leaders might be looking for alternative alliances. This is something Yemen needs to closely monitor,” said a political science professor at Sana’a University.
Embassies in Yemen are now urging their nationals to take extra precautions when in Yemen, as al-Qaeda is now clearly using foreigners as its target of choice, with renewed threats against foreign interests in the country.

Yemen tightens security after American killed

19 March 2012 -AFP –
 Yemeni authorities said on Monday they had tightened security around the city of Taez, a day after an American was shot dead there in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda.
The top security commission in Yemen's second city met in the wake of Sunday's attack and agreed to reinforce policing, according to Saba state news agency.
The measures include a ban on carrying weapons in the city, as well as reducing the time during which motorbikes are allowed to circulate, it said.
Two gunmen riding a motorbike on Sunday shot dead the deputy director of the International Training Development Centre (ITDC), a US citizen, in the Sena neighbourhood.
A statement attributed to Al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the man had been proselytising for Christianity.
ITDC director Waldemar Braun denied the charge of proselytising and named the victim as Joel Shrum, saying he was a development worker.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Shrum has been accused of being a part of proselytising campaign, but the staff of ITDC, which consists of Muslims and Christians working together, has continually focused on human development, skill transfer and community development," Braun said in a statement.
He described Shrum as a "very professional employee who highly respected the Islamic religion."
The US embassy in Sanaa said on Sunday it did not have any information about the killing and that it was investigating the report.
The United States says the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is the most active branch of the global extremist network.
Sunday's attack came two days after an official said suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen abducted a Swiss woman, also a teacher at a language school, in the Red Sea port of Hodeida and moved her to the restive province of Shabwa farther to the east.

Gulf sand storm closes schools, air traffic

19 March 2012
RIYADH — A powerful sandstorm blowing over the Gulf has disrupted air traffic in Yemen, and closed schools and sent hundreds of people to hospital with respiratory problems in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi ministry of education announced on Monday the closure of schools in the north, east and south-west of the desert kingdom, a day after similar measures were taken in the capital Riyadh, the official SPA news agency reported.
In Riyadh, hundreds of people, mostly children with Asthma and allergies, were treated for breathing difficulties triggered by the storm, according to official statistics released late on Saturday.
The storm also affected other Gulf countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, where national weather centres warned drivers to use extra caution due to poor visibility and strong winds.
In Yemen, the sand storm severely disrupted air traffic in and out of Sanaa’s international airport.
At least two flights into the Yemeni capital were cancelled on Monday morning while several others were either delayed or re-routed to the southern port city of Aden, the official SABA news agency reported. Damascus rocked by fighting, Annan team arrives