At least 2 killed and several injured after the kidnapping of 5 teenagers from Sanhan Serwah Nightmare Repeated [Archives:2001/20/Front Page]

May 14 2001

A tribesman and a child were killed and several injured when tense confrontations took place last week between brigade 25 mechanized of the military forces and tribesmen from Serwah in Mareb governorate. The military forces destroyed several houses with missiles and tank fire, injuring a woman and two children after heavy fire caused the collapse of 10 houses. Among the houses that were destroyed was the house of Hassan Al-Zaidi, a journalist for the Yemen Times. All the families were taken to caves in the nearby mountains. The male members of the tribesmen stayed in the area, as eyewitnesses say, to defend their property from the robbery attempts of the military forces. Around 2,000 missiles were said to be taken to the area for the attack..
The whole situation exploded when security forces set up a number of checkpoints between the capital and the Mareb governorate following the kidnapping of 5 teenagers of Sanhan, three of who are the sons of one of the Sheikhs of Sanhan, Hadi Al-Hushaishi. Apart from that, tribesmen from Sanhan established their own tribal checkpoints to prevent tribesmen from Khawlan from passing through.
The Sanhani tribesmen also captured 5 from Bani Jabr of the Jahm tribe, which is the tribe of the abductors. In one of the checkpoints, some tribesmen drove away without waiting for inspection, resulting in a crossfire that resulted in the injury of one soldier. The abductors took the 5 men to Al-Mihjizeh in Serwah, located 170 km east of Sanaa City, and continued to hold the hostages until the time the newspaper went to press.
The situation continues to be tense, especially in that the kidnappers refused to release the hostages until the government compensates them for the damage inflicted to their houses in this latest attack. This in addition to similar attacks organized in June 2000 in a similar fashion. As the kidnappers claim, they along with their families continue to live in tents and valleys since June 2000 until this very day
The kidnappers explained that this kidnapping is in retaliation of the security forces’ destruction of their homes immediately after releasing the 6 kidnapped police officers, also from Sanhan, who were released after intense tribal mediation by Sheikhs Al-Dammani, Duwaid, and Al-Ghadir. Yemen Times covered the kidnapping incidents and its consequences in its issue of June 2000.
According to tribal sources, the government allocated YR 12 million as compensation to the tribesmen whose houses were destroyed. However, the amount has not yet been received.
Several prominent sheikhs from Khawlan are currently involved in tribal mediation with the kidnappers who belong to Aal Al-Zaidi in hope that they will release the kidnapped teenagers. The sheikhs are also requesting an end to the random firing from the military forces and the withdrawal of the military tanks that continue to target the area where the kidnappers are supposed to be hiding.
Villagers whose houses were destroyed demanded swift action by local and international organizations dealing with human rights and the press, and invited them to inspect the area and assess the damage that has been caused by the confrontations. They requested an immediate intervention so as to let the families, who escaped the confrontations to caves and valleys go back to their homes safely
A Yemen Times correspondent arrived in the area where the confrontations took place and tried to meet the kidnappers, but failed due to the intense firing on both sides. However, he was able to meet one of the kidnappers’ relatives who was holding certain types of mosquito protecting shields. Asked about what he is doing, he said, “Not only are we treating the kidnapped well and keeping them secure as our guests, but we are also providing them with mosquito protecting shields so that they wouldn’t suffer from mosquito bites. The military forces took advantage of the fact that we cannot practice our tribal ethics, and harm the kidnapped. Hence they mounted a wave of attacks against our homes and villages. They know that no matter what they do, even if they kill us all, we will never harm our ‘guests’. But if they continue to destroy our homes, we will be forced to destroy Sanhan’s homes as a measure of self-defense.”