Yemen: war comes to capital

Yemen's ongoing internal war briefly made world news Dec. 5 as a suicide bomber and gunmen wearing army uniforms attacked the defense ministry building in the capital, Sanaa, killing 52 people. One attacker drove a car packed with explosives into the gate of the ministry's compound, then gunmen in another vehicle sped in and opened fire on soldiers and medical staff working at a hospital within the compound. Seven foreign doctors and nurses—from Germany, India, Veitnam and the Philippines—are among the dead. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but authorities of course suspect al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The attack came as Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser is on a visit to Washington. (Reuters, BBC News, Dec. 5)

Days before the attack, Yemen began enforcing a ban on motorbikes in the capital in response to a wave of "shoot and scoot" attacks that have killed dozens of officials in recent weeks. Hundreds of demonstrators protested against the bike ban Nov. 30, marching on President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi’s residence, where the security forces used water cannon and tear gas to disperse them. (Dawn, Pakistan, Dec. 1)

One such killing, touching on Yemen's increasingly violent sectarian divide, was of parliamentarian Abdulkareem Jadban, a member of the National Dialogue Conference representing his Houthi people, followers of Zaidi Shi'ite sect considered "heretical" by orthodox Sunni. Jadban was gunned down on Nov. 22 as he emerged from the Shawkani Mosque in Sanaa—the first member of the dialogue body to be killed. The assassination was condemned by all parties in Yemen, including the Houthis' political opponents, al-Islah (opposition party linked to the Muslim Brotherhood), and al-Rashad (Salafist). But the slaying came as armed clashes are raging in Dammaj, a Houthi town in northern Saada governorate, pitting Houthis against Salafists based at the town's Dar al-Hadith seminary who are allied with local Sunni tribes. (The Majalla, UK, Dec. 4)

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  1. Drone srike wipes out Yemen wedding party?

    At least 15 people are dead and five more were injured after an apparent US drone strike missed its target and struck a wedding convoy in Yemen’s central al-Bayda province, according to local officials. A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the reports, or confirm that a strike took place. US drone strikes in Yemen jumped from 10 in 2011 to 42 in 2012. There have been 24 strikes in Yemen so far this year. (US News & World Report, Dec. 12)