Al-Qaeda behind assassination of Houthi official

A follower of the Houthi movement holds up a banner depicting journalist Abdul Karim al-Khiwani during a demonstration commemorating an attack on pro-democracy protesters in Sanaa March 18, 2015. (Reuters)

Al-Qaeda in Yemen has claimed responsibility for the Wednesday assassination of the head of the Houthi militias’ media department, according to Al Arabiya sources.

Abdul Karim al-Khiwani, who was a member of the Revolutionary Committee of the Houthis that control Sanaa, was shot by two gunmen on a motorbike close to his home.

Khiwani was a respected journalist and writer. He won the Amnesty International Special Award for Human Rights Journalism under Threat in 2009.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International urged a quick probe of the “despicable killing of a leading journalist and activist,” saying Khiwani had a history of being harassed for his “outspoken journalism and peaceful activism.”

“His despicable killing today smacks of a politically motivated assassination,” said deputy regional director Said Boumedouha.

The London-based group said Khiwani had been jailed several times during the rule of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

He also represented the Houthis during the U.N.- sponsored national talks that ended a year of deadly protests against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in February 2012.

The talks concluded in January 2014 with a plan to turn the republic into a federation of six regions - a blueprint the Houthis strongly oppose.

The Houthis have been effective masters of Sanaa since September, expanding their zone of control to neighboring regions and to the shores of the Red Sea.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi escaped last month from house arrest in Sanaa and has fled to second city Aden in the south, where he is attempting to re-establish authority.

Tension remains high in Sanaa, where groups opposing the Houthis have been staging frequent demonstrations demanding their pullout and voicing support for Hadi.

The Houthis fought six wars with the Yemeni government between 2004 and 2010.

A key U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaeda, Yemen has descended into chaos since the departure of Saleh, who has been accused of backing the Houthis.

[With AFP]


Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45