Three killed in mosque attack [Archives:2006/938/Front Page]

April 17 2006

AMRAN, April 14 ) At least three people were killed and nine injured in armed clashes between security forces and group of rebels inside a mosque in Amran governorate – about 40 km northwest the capital Sana'a, officials said Saturday.

The 26 September Newspaper site quoted local sources as saying the rebels who are supporters of Muslim cleric Hussein Al-Houthi, tried last Friday to attack a preacher of a Mosque in Harf Sofian, Amran governorate. According to informed sources, they tried to prevent the Egyptian preacher from delivering the Friday sermon.

“Because of the continuous practices of these radicals, local authorities found it necessary for some policemen to be present outside the Mosque in order to prevent arm-carriers from going into the Mosque” source said. At Friday prayer, those elements initiated firing from their guns forcing policemen to fire likewise, sources stated pointing out that “the firing exchange resulted in one of the policemen being killed and five injured. Two of the rebels were also killed, four injured and two arrested.”

The government had accused Al-Hawthi, who was killed in a battle with troops in September 2004, and his supporters of wanting to install an illegal armed group and inciting anti-American sentiment. Al-Hawthi followers answered that authorities wanted to silence his criticism of corruption.

The government blamed Houthi's father, Sheikh Badr El-Deen, for a new round of clashes which erupted in 2005. Later, the elder Houthi agreed to stop fighting.

In March, Yemen freed more than 600 of the rebels as part of an amnesty that aimed to put an end to two years of clashes that have killed several hundred soldiers and rebels. Worth noting that in the past few years, many mosques in different regions in Yemen have been subjected to armed attacks. Mostly the attackers had no political motive. The Observers and decision-makers were concerned that the high number of light arms in the country has started to have severe effects on security even in holy places in the country.