Safety precautions increased after assassination attempt on Sana’a Security Director [Archives:2008/1157/Local News]

May 22 2008

By: Nadia Al-Sakkaf
SANA'A, May 17 ) The Security Authority said they have arrested over 10 men who are suspected to be involved in last Wednesday's attempted assassination of Brigadier General Mohammed Turaiq, the Sana'a Governorate Security Director.

The suspects are said to have come from other governorates and taken refuge in Bani Hushaish in Sana'a governorate and set up a trap for Turaiq while he was on a security-related field visit to the district. The attack included a heavy exchange of gunfire but did not lead to any casualties, according to government sources. However, unofficial sources reported that this was not a plot against Turaiq, but rather a local dispute that turned violent.

However, more security and military personnel have been dispatched to the area since the attack, especially after the ultimatum given by the government for Houthi insurgents in Sana'a governorate to surrender their weapons ended yesterday without response from the so-called Houthi groups in the governorate.

According to Sana'a Governor Ali Al-Maqdishi, the culprits are Al-Houthi insurgents who are extending their rebellion from North Yemen to adjacent governorates in Marib and Al-Jawf and have found support in Bani Hushaish district where some pro-Houthis reside.

The culprits were identified by local security through scrutinizing local tribes, checking for non-locals and investigating their backgrounds. According to the security director's office, Turaiq had been on a mission to make pacts with the local tribes and remind them of their commitment not to indulge in any anti-government activities and to ensure that rebels were not welcome in that area. He was accompanied by Sheikh Yahya Al-Qadhi, head of the Bani Hushaish sheikhs, when unknown armed men opened fire on the vehicles, injuring one of the sheikh's companions.

The tribal system has weakened over the years because of modernized political trends and the movement of citizens within the country. The result of this weakening is that the sheikhs' influence and control over what happens in their districts is no longer assured, say some of the tribal figures in the area.

“After they were pardoned by the state for their previous anti-government acts, the locals promised not to allow any terrorists to operate in the area, but like the ones in Sa'ada, they broke their promise and caused this disturbance to the security in the area,” said a security representative in Sana'a governorate, who requested to remain anonymous.

This attack comes one week after the security director of Amran governorate was attacked in Bani Sufyan district in Amran where intense fighting took place, resulting in the deaths of dozens of both security agents and insurgents.

Currently there are tough security measures in place in the region in order to control the flow of people from northern governorates of Sa'ada and Hajjah into the adjacent ones. However, because of the difficult terrain of the area, some people are still able to move between governorates, especially if they have the support of the local population.

Security committees from Sana'a governorate and from the Ministry of Interior are currently working with the local sheikhs on security strategies that would ensure stability in the area and would stop such attacks from happening again. According to locals, these measures depend on the sheikhs' instructions to the tribal communities to report any suspicious behavior or strangers in their neighborhoods.