Houthi-allied politician al-Mutawakil killed in Sanaa -UPDATED

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a leader of a Yemeni political party that is close to the powerful Houthi rebel group

Houthi-allied politician al-Mutawakil killed in Sanaa -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Renowned Yemeni politician Mohamed Abdel-Malek al-Mutawakil was killed by unknown militants in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a family member said Sunday.

Abdel-Qadir al-Mutawakil, a relative of the slain politician, said unknown militants had shot and killed him on one of the streets of the Yemeni capital.

A-Mutawakil was the former deputy secretary-general of the Union of Popular Forces, one of the parties allied to the Shiite Houthi movement, which has been controlling the Yemeni capital Sanaa since September 21.

The killing took place one day after Yemen's main political factions, including the Houthis, signed an agreement mandating the president and prime minister to form a new government in an effort to defuse political tensions in the impoverished state.

The Zaydi Houthis are close to the Union of Popular Forces, which is a liberal party but dominated by Zaydis, a sect of Shi'ite Islam that predominates in Northern Yemen.

The Yemeni presidency denounced the assassination of al-Mutawakil in a statement that the assassination of the politician coincided with strenuous efforts to get Yemen out of its current political crisis, accusing al-Mutawakil's killers of wanting to sabotage these efforts and destabilize Yemen.

"The death of this national symbol is a major loss for Yemen," the presidency said in a statement that was quoted by the official Yemeni news agency.

"Yemen is in bad need for such visionary politicians, particularly at these tough times," the presidency added in the statement.

Houthis capture Jabal Ras region

Meanwhile, militants from the Shiite Houthi group took control of the Jabal Ras area in the western Yemeni province of Al-Hudaydah on Monday.

"Dozens of armed Houthi gunmen have seized Jabal Ras and took over its security points, including the police headquarters, after the withdrawal of Al-Qaeda militants from the area," a security official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Anadolu Agency.

Government officials have yet to comment on the current situation in the area.

Al-Qaeda militants took over the area Saturday after fierce clashes with security forces left several soldiers dead.

They withdrew from the region Sunday night.

"Nearly 19 policemen were killed Saturday in an attack by Al-Qaeda militants that simultaneously targeted two checkpoints and the police headquarters," Yemen's Interior Ministry said on its website.  

Security remains to be a major challenge in political turmoil-stricken Yemen. The country has been beset by instability since a popular uprising that started in 2011 ended the long rule of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh a year later.

Over the past months, Yemen seemed to be teetering on the edge of a sectarian war as its Shiite Houthis sought to expand their control beyond the capital Sanaa.

Growing Houthi influence in the country seems to be pitting the Shiite movement against Al-Qaeda, which is also powerful in the country.

The power struggle between Houthis and Al-Qaeda is most manifest in the central province of Al-Bayda', where both of them have been clashing for several days now.

 

Last Mod: 03 Kasım 2014, 12:34
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