As mediation committee awaits directives to go to Sa’adaEleven killed, others injured in surprise army attack on Houthis [Archives:2008/1151/Local News]

May 1 2008

SA'ADA, April 30 ) Military trucks loaded with troops intentionally approached Houthi strategic positions on Tuesday, launching surprise attacks against them, which left five Houthis dead and another three injured, tribal sources told the Yemeni Times, adding that six of the attacking soldiers were killed and 10 others injured, some seriously.

Reacting to the incident, Houthi representative Sheikh Saleh Habra reported that Houthi field leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi released a statement Tuesday evening denouncing repeated army attacks upon his supporters in Haidan district and other areas in the restive governorate.

According to Al-Houthi, such surprise attacks targeting his supporters only serve to escalate the unrest in the war-ravaged governorate, noting that the situation in various Sa'ada areas may worsen if the Yemeni army continues behaving this way.

Regarding efforts by the joint Yemeni-Qatari mediation committee, Habra noted that the committee still is in Sana'a awaiting President Ali Abdullah Saleh's orders to commence its travel to Sa'ada with the aim of reconciling government troops and Houthi supporters.

The president recently created a new mediation committee to oversee how both sides are abiding by the Doha-brokered ceasefire agreement. The new committee is comprised of Member of Parliament Mohammed Sabbar Al-Jumaei, Al-Jawf Governor Mansour Ahmad Saif and Shoura Council members Ali Al-Qafish and Yahya Abdullah Qahtan, who represent the government, while Habra, Saleh Ahmad Sharma and the three-member Qatari mediation team represent Houthis.

The Qatari team returned to Sana'a following deliberations between Qatar's government and Yemeni Foreign Affairs Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi in Doha, where Al-Qirbi delivered a letter from President Saleh to the Emir of Qatari, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

The letter stressed the necessity of continuing Qatari mediation efforts, while the Yemeni government pledged to make effective peace initiatives and overcome any obstacles to the ceasefire agreement by military and security commanders.

President Saleh on Thursday issued a directive excluding the previous presidential mediation committee chaired by Mohammed Saleh Qara'a from current mediation efforts because, according to him, it had failed to negotiate with Houthis. Meanwhile, a senior government official reported that the new committee will be comprised of four members, with two representatives from each side.