Violence in southern Yemen

Anti-government and separatist protests continued in several cities of southern Yemen yesterday. Reuters talks of thousands of demonstrators and some idea of the scale can be gleaned from the pictures on News Yemen’s website (report in Arabic).

The most serious trouble occurred in ad-Dhali’ where one person was killed and as many as 22 injured, including nine policemen. Demonstrators reportedly attacked government buildings.

The dead man is said to be a retired general, Mahmoud Mohamed Ali.

In Zinjibar (in the southern province of Abyan) a senior intelligence figure, Major General Nasser Manour Hadi – who is the vice-president’s brother – survived an assassination attempt. The attackers, alleged to be followers of separatist leader Tariq al-Fadhli, opened fire on his motorcade, wounding two of his bodyguards.

As the war between government forces and Houthi rebels continues unabated in the north of the country – with devastating consequences for tens of thousands of displaced civilians – relations between the government and humanitarian relief agencies (strained at the best of times) have taken a turn for the worse.

UPI reports that Abdul Karim Ras'a, the Yemeni minister of public health, has lashed out at Oxfam, saying its statements warning of “a full-blow humanitarian crisis" unless there is a ceasfire are “without merit”. He is said to have warned that the government may expel any agency that makes “irresponsible” statements.

This echoes a remark made by President Salih on Saturday when he told aid agencies to stop moaning and get on with their job "without making media noise”.

The latest issue of the Yemen Times has a detailed on-the-ground report from Saddam al-Ashmori on the humanitarian crisis in the north.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 1 October 2009.