Armed tribesmen attack leading local newspaper [Archives:2008/1129/Front Page]

February 14 2008

SANAA, Feb. 13 ) Hundreds of people took to the street on Wednesday in different southern governorates in solidarity with Al-Ayyam daily newspaper, which was attacked by armed tribesmen on Tuesday, February 12.

An armed tribal group attacked the premises of Al-Ayyam daily newspaper on Tuesday, causing national outrage. The group, made up of 12 men, fired live bullets into the newspaper's office on Al-Siteen Street in Sana'a. The group also attacked the home of the newspaper's editor, Hisham Ba Sharahil, which is near the newspaper's headquarters. The newspaper's editor and his family were inside the house when it was attacked, but no one was injured.

The Ba Sharahil family's guard fought back when the armed men tried to break into the house. He killed one of the attackers, who was an police officer at the Ministry of Interior but he was clothed in civilian dress. An other two attackers were injured, but the Ba Sharahil's guard escaped unharmed. The attack took place at 1 p.m. Two hours before the attack, some armed men from the same group wrote, “this property belongs to Sheikh Ahmed Al-Hadhary,” on the facade of the newspaper's building. The armed tribesmen claim the ownership of the land and say it belongs to their Sheikh, Al-Hadhary. Police came to the scene one hour after the attack, though Ba Sharahil said he called the police immediately after the attack. The police arrested Ba Sharahil's guard for investigation after the armed men ran away. The police also arrested another four workers from the newspaper because Ba Shrahil refused to hand over one of his sons to the police.

The Ba Sharahil family bought the land in 1979 when it was listed in the government's real estate's registration. On May 13, 2006, Hisham Ba Sharahil received a call and was threatened that the land, on which his house and newspaper are built, would be forcibly occupied.

The editor's son accused influential figures in the state of being behind the attack, which he described as brutal.

Several MPs and tribal Sheikhs announced solidarity with Ba Sharahil and assembled at his home after the attack.

The Al-Ayyam daily held the authorities responsible for its editor's and newspaper workers lives. The paper released a statement that the attack was a result of the authorities' inability to arrest perpetrators.

Established in 1958, Al-Ayyam is a leading independent Yemeni newspaper and a top-circulation paper in Yemen, with a print run of 64,000 copies.

The newspaper has covered several issues regarding recent protests held in southern Yemen against the government. It covers issues that are critical of widespread governmental corruption and land robbery in the country.