Sa’ada landmines kill more than 8 women and children [Archives:2008/1146/Local News]

April 14 2008

Mohammed Bin Sallam
SA'ADA, April 13 ) Landmines planted by the Yemeni army in Haidan district have killed more than eight people, all women and children, plus numerous cows, sheep and other cattle, over the past five months, Houthi sources say, adding that army personnel planted mines on citizens' roadways and farmlands.

Forty-year-old Olwa Ghabish Al-Aboud was the most recent victim of landmines planted by the army in Mirran area. Last Monday, Al-Aboud was hit by a mine that severed her right leg and injured various other parts of her body. She was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition.

Yemen is one of the countries having ratified international conventions banning and removing anti-personnel mines, but its army planted thousands of them during its fourth Sa'ada War against Houthi loyalists throughout 2007. reports that it has obtained anti-personnel mine maps revealing the more than 25,000 anti-personnel mines still threatening citizens in Mirran and other areas of Sa'ada governorate.

According to the web site, on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007, an anti-personnel mine hit 35-year-old Olwa Ahmad Shala'a of Al-Sharqabi village in Mirran, severing one of her legs and leaving her incapacitated.

Likewise, 15-year-old Modera Mohammed Muqbil was hit by a landmine Aug. 17, 2007 while grazing cows in the Mirran area. Her hand was amputated.

The web site adds that the wife of Mohammed Shandaq from Sa'ada's Dhiraa Arman area lost her leg after being hit by a mine while gathering firewood in the area.

On Feb. 16 of this year, 15 days after the Yemeni government and Houthis signed a Doha-brokered peace deal, an anti-personnel mine exploded in Haidan district's Sasa village, injuring the wife of Hussein Ali Al-Abras and leaving her incapacitated. The victim lost one of her legs.

Four days later, 12-year-old Ahmad Qasim Dawan from the same district lost his hand after being hit by a mine while on his way home from school.

Additionally, 14-year-old Amran Mohammed Saleh Dallah from Mirran area was killed instantly after being hit by an anti-personnel mine while returning home from school. His body was torn apart.

Numerous cows and sheep also reportedly have been killed by landmines planted by the army on a road connecting Bajzar village to Juma'a Bin Fadhil area.

Houthis accuse government of hindering reconciliation efforts

Army commanders are creating obstacles to efforts aimed at achieving reconciliation between the Yemeni government and Houthi supporters and implementing a ceasefire agreement both sides signed in Doha on Feb. 1 of this year, Houthi representative Sheikh Saleh Habra told the Yemen Times by phone.

“Such army officials are dishonest and uncredible. They want the mediation efforts to go beyond Qatar, while we want such pressing issues to be resolved immediately. We don't need more mediators to intervene in this situation,” he commented, adding that government troops have struck strategic Houthi positions over the past days, but for the time being, the situation remains relatively calm.

According to Habra, the head of the Qatari mediation team flew home while other team members are remaining in Sana'a.

As no official or neutral party has explained why the Qatari mediation team left Sa'ada, Habra pointed out that he's still optimistic about reconciliation between both sides. However, he has learned that senior government officials, including Sa'ada's governor, chief the governorate's security department and the chairman of the political security organization, are creating obstacles to efforts to implement the ceasefire agreement.

Local observers fear that the Qatari mediation team no longer is optimistic about ending the crisis, particularly as Yemeni authorities aren't giving top priority to resolving the situation. They hold the view that the departure of the head of the Qatari mediation team signals an end to reconciliation efforts so far expended by the Qatari government, which succeeded in lifting a siege on Sheikh Shayea Bukhtan's followers, who support the Yemeni government, in Al-Salem area.

Fact-finding committees the government has sent to the restive governorate have pressed Houthis to lift their lockdown of tribesmen, backing the government in its fight with Houthi supporters, and visited five pro-government tribesmen detained at Qahza Jail. The men have been confined in isolated cells for more than a month after being harshly beaten and tortured by government.

Yemeni government sources admit that there are numerous obstacles to efforts to implementing the ceasefire agreement and ceasing bloodshed in the war-torn governorate. The government has accused members of the Faithful Youth Organization founded by Hussein Badraddin Al-Houthi, whom the Yemeni army killed in September 2004, of breaching the ceasefire agreement and thereby hindering reconciliation efforts by the mediation teams.

According to the same government sources, the mediation committee mandated by President Ali Abdullah Saleh to oversee how the two sides are abiding by the Doha-brokered agreement met Saturday, but the Qatari mediation team didn't attend.

The meeting discussed possible mechanisms to execute the agreement's various terms, whereas the following days, according to the mediation committee, will be devoted to overseeing how committed the Yemeni army and Houthis are to the agreement.