Three Killed over Land Dispute in Sana’a City DEADLY CONFRONTATION [Archives:2001/17/Front Page]

April 23 2001

Two policemen were killed last Saturday during an armed confrontation between the security forces. A chase followed in an attempt to arrest armed tribesmen wanted in connection with a murder case. Some policemen were seriously injured during a tense armed clash on Friday and succumbed to the injuries one day later at the hospital.
The original conflict started when an armed group of tribesmen threw a hand grenade into the home of Mohammed Al-Shara’abi last Thursday morning and fired machine guns resulting in his death on the spot, and injury of his son. The incident, which took place northwest of Sanaa, near the Al-Asbahi housing complex created panic in the neighborhood, especially as the assaulting group also kicked out the victim’s family from the house on the grounds that the family was living, unauthorized, on the tribesmen’s land for 20 years. After the incident, other tribesmen from Mareb, led by Sheikh Ghaleb Al-Ajda’, confronted the attackers, who are thought to be from Sanhan, and returned the family to their home, and protecting it from any further attempts by the armed group. This escalated into further confrontations between the two groups belonging to the Murad tribe of Khawlan and the Al-Jarda tribe of Sanhan. These confrontations resulted in an exchange of gunfire after the Friday noon prayers. The latest confrontations resulted in the injury of 5 tribesmen from both sides, the closure of Sanaa-Taiz route, and the cutting off of electricity to Al-Asbahi housing complexes. The confrontation could only stop after extensive mediation efforts by Sheikh Ali Maqsa’, Sheikh of the tribe of Sanhan between the two sides. The final agreement was to end the conflict and have security forces to protect the family of the victim.


Yemen Times went to cover the story and met with the family members of the victims. They explained that the victim was murdered around 6:00 am on Thursday by a hand grenade. “While we were asleep at around 6:00 am, we were awakened by a huge explosion rocking the whole house, and we could only see fire all over the room where my father was sleeping. The explosion killed our father and injured our brother. We call upon the free press and human rights organizations to unveil this horrible crime and protect us from further assaults,” said the oldest daughter of the victim. 
She added, “We did notify the police and the security forces that our lives were at stake as some groups were still shooting at our home Wednesday night, but the security forces ignored us and did nothing to prevent the incident. The murderers are still at large and we are living in a state of fear, panic, and continuous threats.”
While on his way out of the house after having the interviews and taking the photos, unarmed Hassan Al-Zaidi of Yemen Times, the journalist who covered the story, was arrested and taken to the ministry of interior. He was later humiliated and treated as if he were the real murderer, not the tribesmen in the loose. His camera, film, and cassettes were snatched and the forces attempted to have him sign an understanding that he will not publish what he saw at the crime scene, not cover the human tragedy in any way, not even a reference to demands of the victim’s family.
Yemen Times has sent a letter condemning these acts to the Yemeni Journalist Syndicate, the Ministry of Interior, the Presidential Office, the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Information, the State Minister for Human Rights, and several human rights organizations highlighting this gruesome act by the security forces against the journalist.
Such tribal and land disputes occur frequently in many parts of Yemen and they take the form of armed confrontation because of the widespread weapons in the country. These confrontations led to tens of deaths during 2001, many of the victims being innocent civilians. The problem is accentuated due to the corrupt judicial system that takes tens of years to decide such disputes. The number of such incidents has risen significantly in Sanaa City, where continuous clashes during day and night spread panic and concern among the residents.