BEIRUT

Middle East

Gunmen kill leading figure in Yemeni Shiite group

Riot police use water cannons to disperse anti-government protesters calling for the government to be dismissed, in Sanaa January 19, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

SANAA: Unknown assailants shot dead a leader of the Yemeni Shiite Muslim Houthi group in Sanaa on Tuesday while driving to attend the final session of reconciliation talks aimed at tackling the country's political and security challenges.

Yemen has been torn by rising violence and lawlessness as the U.S.-allied country struggles to overcome political turmoil after long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down following months of mass protests against his rule in 2011.

Officials said that Ahmad Sharafeddin, a Houthi delegate at the reconciliation talks who had been dean of the law faculty at Sanaa University, was killed when gunmen opened fire on him in his vehicle from a speeding car in central Sanaa.

They said he died instantly and the gunmen escaped.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the assassination, but another Houthi leader, Abdulkarim al-Khiwani, accused hardline Sunni Muslim militants of carrying out the attack.

The Houthi group fought radical Sunni Salafists in northern Yemen from October until earlier this month, when a ceasefire was reached earlier to relocate the Salafis to another city some 250 km (155 miles) away. But clashes have continued in other parts of northern Yemen with tribesmen allied to the Salafis.

More than 210 people have been killed in the fighting that erupted in late October after the Houthis accused the Salafists of recruiting foreign militants in preparation to attack them.

The Salafists, who follow an austere brand of Sunni Islam, say the foreigners are students of Islamic theology.

The sectarian rivalry has cast a shadow over reconciliation efforts in Yemen, a neighbour of top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and home to one of al Qaeda's most active wings.

Tuesday's attack was the latest in a string of killings against high-profile Yemenis and foreigners. Last week an Iranian diplomat was killed in Sanaa when he resisted gunmen who were trying to kidnap him.

Despite the challenging security conditions, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi addressed the final session of the reconciliation talks, which is due to produce a new constitution for Yemen and approve a federal system for the country.

The talks, which began in March last year, have been stuck on southern separatist demands to revive the state that merged with North Yemen in 1990.

The delegates have agreed on a federal system but have yet to work out some of the details, which will be tackled by a special committee headed by Hadi.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

Unknown assailants shot dead a leader of the Yemeni Shiite Muslim Houthi group in Sanaa on Tuesday while driving to attend the final session of reconciliation talks aimed at tackling the country's political and security challenges.

The Houthi group fought radical Sunni Salafists in northern Yemen from October until earlier this month, when a ceasefire was reached earlier to relocate the Salafis to another city some 250 km (155 miles) away.

Despite the challenging security conditions, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi addressed the final session of the reconciliation talks, which is due to produce a new constitution for Yemen and approve a federal system for the country.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here