More Zaidi arrests, second car bomb in northern Yemen

1 Dec
Malak Shaher
Yemen Times

Published:01-12-2010

SANA’A, Nov. 28 — As many as 25 persons were arrested in Amran on Sunday during the Zaidi commemoration of Al-Ghadeer day, confirmed Ali Al-Dailami, executive manager of the Yemeni Democratic Organization for Defending Human Rights.

This human rights organization condemned the arrest of unarmed civilians whose only ‘crime’ was to participate in a religious event.

“Unfortunately the government accuses everybody who is Zaidi of being a Houthi,” Al-Dailami told the Yemen Times.

The organization condemned the arrests in a statement on its website, saying that Zaidis were being accused of being part of the political conflict in the north because they shared a common religious belief with the Houthi rebels.

Another three persons were arrested in Jahna, Sa’ada, said Al-Dailami.

Second car bomb in three days

In another day of violence in the north, at least two people were killed and eight injured in a car bomb attack on a Houthi funeral convoy in Sahar, Sa’ada, on Friday.

The mourners were on their way to the funeral of Bader Al-Deen Al-Houthi, the Houthi’s elderly spiritual leader, who died of natural causes on Thursday. The 86-year-old reportedly suffered from asthma.

A bomb in an unmanned vehicle, not a suicide bomber as previously reported, attacked the convoy, Houthi spokesman Saleh Habra told the Yemen Times.

Bader Al-Deen Al-Houthi was the father to both the current Houthi commander, Abdulmalek Al-Houthi, and the founder of the Houthi movement, Husain Al-Houthi, killed in the first Sada’a war in 2004. Husain Al-Houthi formed the movement as a rebellion against the Yemen government in the same year, demanding an independent state in Sa’ada.

Friday’s bombing was the second in three days targeting Zaidis. At least 20 people were killed in Al-Jawf in an attack on a religious procession of Shiites on Wednesday. The procession was travelling to Sa’ada to mark Al-Ghadeer day to commemorate Ali Bin Abi Taleb, a key figure of the Shiite Houthi faith. Al-Ghadeer day falls on the 18th Thu Al-Hajja, in the Islamic year. Zaidis spread the celebrations over the days before and after.

Despite claims that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) was responsible for the attacks, AQAP has not claimed responsibility for either of the two explosions.

The Houthi media office claimed that the US government planned one or both of the bomb attacks, an accusation the US embassy in Sana’a denied in a statement on Sunday.

The first attack turned out to be targeting tribes from Al-Jawf who wanted to participate in the Al-Ghadeer day whilst the second attack targeted Houthis, said Al-Dailami.

Arresting Zaidi people

Sa’ada has witnessed relative calm since the Houthis signed a cease-fire with the government in February 2010.

However, violence in Sa’ada has been escalating since clashes between the pro-government tribes and the Houthis broke out on November 15.

These clashes killed at least 20 and injured another nine. Further violence, between the Houthis and the pro-government tribes, broke out in Bani Owaibary to the north of Sa’ada, killing six and injuring three.

The war in Sa’ada started in 2004 when Houthis proclaimed their aim to seek autonomy from state for the Zaidi Shiite population. Six wars have taken place in Sa’ada since 2004.

The conflict has spilled over into neighboring Saudi Arabia and has led to the destruction of the infrastructure of Sa’ada, including schools and hospitals. It has also displaced more than 300,000 people of which only 20,000 have returned to their homes.

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