Friday, May 4, 2012

Yemeni Police Free 89 Illegal African Migrants Stranded at Border Regions

May 4, 2012
Yemeni police freed 89 illegal African migrants who were held captive by armed men to force their relatives in Saudi Arabia to send ransom money, the Yemeni interior ministry said Friday.
The police raided several houses in the northern district of Haradh in Hajja province near the border with Saudi Arabia, captured five kidnappers and freed 89 illegal migrants, including 76 Somalis, seven Nigerians and six Sudanese, who were held captive for weeks, the ministry said in a statement.
"Investigations with the African illegal migrants showed that the kidnappers tortured them to force them to contact their families who are in Saudi Arabia to send ransom money," it said.
"The kidnappers were under investigation, while the Africans were temporarily kept at Haradh police station. The Somalis will be transferred to a UN refugee center and the others will be repatriated," the statement added.
The migrants who came to Yemen through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden on smugglers' boats arrived at Haradh hoping to reach the oil-rich Arab Gulf countries. But Saudi Arabia has recently tightened its borders with Yemen to prevent African migrants from reaching its lands.
Unable to continue their journey into the Gulf countries due to tightened border controls by the Saudi authorities or to return home without any resources, migrants from the Horn of Africa frequently find themselves stranded in Haradh without adequate food, shelter and water.

12 al-Qaeda militants killed in Yemen

By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, May 4, 2012- At least 12 al-Qaeda militants were killed on Friday in clashes between tribesmen fight along with Yemeni troops and militants linked to al-Qaeda group in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, which has been the scene of fierce clashes for more than a month.
A tribal figure reported that the clashes took place in the southern town of Lawdar, saying that the tribesmen destroyed two vehicles and killed 12 al-Qaeda fighters, who were attempting to storm the south entrance to the town in the province of Abyan.
"During the attack four civilians were wounded when two mortar rounds fired by al-Qaeda militants fired toward Lawder city,'' a resident in the scene stated.
Yemen's Defense Ministry reported on Thursday night that at least 8 al-Qaeda militants were killed, and several others were wounded in a battle in the southern province of Abyan.
The ministry said that the Yemeni army repulsed an attack by al-Qaeda militants in the southern city of Zinjibar.
Meanwhile, at least 17 militants linked to al-Qaeda were killed in air strikes and clashes in the south on Thursday morning.
A leader in an army-allied tribal force said that four militants from Ansar al-Sharea were killed during clashes with tribesmen near the southern city of Lawdar.
Five more militants were killed by a Yemeni airstrike outside the same city on Thursday morning, a security official added.
Hundreds of soldiers and Ansar al-Sharea have been killed since last month in Lawder and Modiya towns in Abyan during ongoing battles between the Yemeni army and al-Qaeda militants.
More than 250 people have been killed since government forces intensified a crackdown on the militants who the authorities accused of attacking a military camp near Lawdar last month.
Taking advantage of the one-year-long political conflicts in Yemen, al-Qaeda militants in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), locally known as Ansar al-Sharea, has taken control of several cities and swathes of land across the restive southern provinces.
Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen is considered one of the terror group's most dangerous. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) was formed in January 2009 by a merger between two regional offshoots of the international Islamist militant network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
The militants mainly entrenching itself in Yemen's southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, is on the terrorist list of the United States, which considers it as an increasing threat to its national security.
In a separate development, according to local news websites, Yemen's Interior Ministry put security and military apparatus on alert for potential attacks by al-Qaeda militants in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a.
The websites mentioned that reinforcements were deployed on Friday around foreign embassies and other sensitive targets to be protected from al-Qaeda attacks.
President Abdu Raboo Mansour Hadi, who took office promising to fight al-Qaeda, is also facing challenges from Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the north and secessionists in the south.

Committee to Protect Journalists makes a stand against repression in Yemen

Chiara Onassis | 4 May 2012
SANA’A: The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a series of anti-press attacks in Yemen over the past 10 days that have included assaults on two journalists, threats against two more, and the official harassment of a local newspaper.
 “Yemeni journalists of all types have been attacked and threatened in recent days,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Authorities have a duty to enforce the law and bring an immediate end to these tactics designed to intimidate the press into silence.”
Anwar al-Bahri, a reporter for the official Saba news agency, was beaten by unidentified men who stormed into his home in the capital, Sana’a, on Monday, the agency reported. News accounts reported that the attackers belonged to Yemen’s most influential tribal group, the al-Ahmar family. Al-Bahri was beaten in front of his wife and children and was treated for unspecified injuries at a local hospital, news reports said.
Wael al-Absi, a journalist for the news website Aleshteraki, was photographing a protest in Freedom Square in Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, on April 24 when an unidentified man assaulted him, according to his employer. News accounts reported that the assailant was aligned with the security forces that oversee Freedom Square. Aleshteraki is affiliated with the Yemeni Socialist Party. Al-Absi was treated for head and eye injuries at a local hospital, news reports said.
On the same day, two journalists received threatening calls, according to news reports. An unidentified man called Fathi Abu al-Nasr, a journalist who contributes to several Yemeni news publications, and told him he’d be killed if he didn’t stop writing, according to news reports. The journalist, who has written in support of the revolution, is also critical of the Shiite rebels known as the Huthis in the northern Saada region, news reports said.
An unidentified man called Abdelqadir al-Mansoub, the head of the office of the news website Hshd in the city of Al-Hudaydah, and told him to be careful about his coverage of alleged corruption involving a local oil company, according to news reports. The caller said that if anything happened to al-Mansoub, it would be the journalist’s own fault.
The son of former President Ali Abdallah Saleh has also launched a campaign of harassment against a local newspaper. The weekly Al-Ahali reported on Tuesday that the office of Republican Guard Commander Ahmed Ali Abdallah Saleh had released a statement saying the paper had spied on military camps and cooperated with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and that the paper’s staff should be prosecuted in military courts. Several local news websites loyal to Saleh also republished the story, according to news reports.
Al-Ahali had published an article on April 23 that said the commander had four Apache helicopters in a military camp in the village of Sanhan, the former president’s birthplace. The paper, which is affiliated with the leading opposition Islah party, has long been a critic of the Yemeni government and the military.
Al-Ahali has been attacked in the past. In April 2011, thousands of copies of the newspaper were confiscated, and in 2009, the Yemeni government barred the sale of the newspaper for a time, CPJ research shows.
CPJ documented a stream of attacks against journalists in Yemen since political unrest erupted last year, including deaths, physical assaults, detentions, harassments, and attacks on news outlets.

Yemen: UN mediator facilitates transfer of military leadership

May 4, 2012
A United Nations mediator facilitated the peaceful transfer of command of a key military brigade from a relative of the country’s former President to an official appointed by his elected successor, Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour, as part of the country’s ongoing transition process.
 “I witnessed the handing over of the command of the Third Brigade from Colonel Tarek Mohammed Abdullah Saleh to Colonel Abdulrahman al-Halili,” the UN Special Adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar told reporters last night in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.
 “This event has taken place in line with President Hadi’s recent decision and I am confident that the President will continue to lead the country to a successful transition,” Mr. Benomar said.
Last year, a popular uprising erupted in Yemen, similar to the protests in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In November, warring factions in the country signed an agreement on a transitional settlement under which Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to hand over power to Mr. Mansour Hadi, the Vice President at the time, who was elected to the Presidency in February.
In March, the Security Council called on Yemen to remain committed to its transition process and noted that the country had entered a second phase of transition which should focus, among other things, on restructuring its security forces and establishing an inclusive national dialogue.
Yesterday’s transfer follows the handover of the air force command on 24 April, which was also facilitated by Mr. Benomar. “The time has come for Yemenis to concentrate on ending divisions within the army and to focus on preparations for the national dialogue process” he said.
Mr. Benomar and his team have been in Yemen for the past two weeks, supporting Yemeni-led efforts on the country’s transition process.