Sept. 29 fatal firefight near British Embassy Gun battle ‘normal accident’ [Archives:2002/41/Front Page]

October 7 2002

Sheikh Abdullah bin Hussein al-Ahmar, Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of Islah Party, says the shootout between his sons and police in Sana’a last Sunday is no big deal.
Varying reports suggest at least two and as many as four men – three soldiers and one Yemeni passerby – died in the firefight that erupted near the British embassy in Sana’a.
Al-Ahmar, however, describes the incident as ‘a normal accident,’ pointing out in press statements that some people in the government have tried to make a mountain out of a molehill.
He said the government is making the issue part of electoral propaganda.
The shootout, which lasted at least 30 minutes, erupted after two sons of al-Ahmar wanted to park their cars in a closed area near the embassy.
The son of al-Ahmar, Kahtan, and one of his escorts were among the injured.
Official sources have accused al-Ahmar’s sons of breaking the law and starting the gun battle, which sheikh al-Ahmar denies strongly. He holds the policemen accountable, claiming they are unqualified and unable to perform their job well.
His press office also accused the Ministry of Interior of being unable to ensure security and safety for people in Yemen.
He said his sons were presented to prosecutors following orders from President Saleh. He also said that President Saleh interfered to stop the shootout when he ordered the withdrawal of government troops.
The official investigation continues.
Sources told the Yemen Times that the government did not allow Kahtan al-Ahmar to go abroad for medical treatment until the issue of injured soldiers is settled.
It’s believed the incident did not target the British embassy, even though it was showered with bullets during the fight.
Such incidents happen frequently in Yemen, but most are not reported. It is believed that this incident gained more significance because it occurred near a Western embassy.
Yemen has been suffering from the spread of weapons for decades. However, the problem became more dangerous recently because it resulted in several violent incidents that damaged Yemen’s reputation abroad.
It is estimated that 60 million pieces of weapons are in the hands of Yemenis, which indicates that on average, each Yemeni carries three pieces of weapons