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Yemeni Politician Shot Dead Following Islamic Opposition Conference - 2002-12-28

A senior leader of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) was killed Saturday just after speaking at an Islamic opposition party conference in Yemen. Authorities have arrested the alleged gunman.

Police say Jarallah Omar, 60, deputy secretary general of the YSP, was shot and killed after stepping down from the podium at a conference of leaders from opposing political factions in Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

The group was attending the annual meeting of the Islah party, an Islamic opposition group.

Police say they arrested the gunman after he fired several shots. Authorities identified him as Ali al-Jarallah and described him as a suspected hardliner.

One western news agency, AFP, reported that Mr. Omar's speech on behalf of the YSP rejected the use of violence.

The Associated Press reported that Yemeni security officials said the gunman was recently released after serving a six month sentence for delivering an anti-government speech.

Security agents for Abdullah al-Ahmar, parliamentary speaker and head of the country's second largest reform party, took the gunman to Mr. al-Ahmar's home for questioning.

The YSP has been described as the main opposition party in Yemen. It ruled the southern portion of the gulf state before it merged with the north in 1990.