News / Middle East

Car Blast Kills 17 Shi'ites in Northern Yemen

A suicide carbomber blew himself up alongside a religious procession in northern Yemen. At least 17 were killed and 15 wounded in the blast which observers say could unravel a fragile truce between rebels and the Yemeni government signed in February.

The bomber struck worshippers on one of the most sacred holidays of the year to Yemeni Shi'ites. The blast wreaked havoc during the celebration of al Ghadeer, wounding several in an already volatile northern Yemen.

A spokesman for the area's Huthi rebels said his group was targeted in the attack, in al-Jawf province.

The attack on the Shi'ite Houthi procession in the Jawf province could undermine the fragile ten-month old truce between the government and rebels loyal to Abdel Malek al Houthi. Several top Houthi leaders were reportedly killed in the blast.

Yemen's weak central government faces rebels in the north and south as well as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Tensions have been rising in northern Yemen in recent days, with reports of scattered clashes, as well as bloodshed.

Jamal al Najjar of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees says that a number of people have been killed and still others have fled since fighting began on November 13th.

"On the 13th of November, clashes erupted between pro-government tribes and Houthi followers in Kadebar and Munabah districts [along] the border with Saudi Arabia. Fighting stopped during the Eid [al Adha] holiday after tribal mediation, but then it resumed on the 20th of November. More than 20 people were killed and a number of people were displaced to Saudi Arabia."

Greg Johnsen, a Yemen scholar at Princeton University, says that it is too early to tell if al Qaida is actually responsible for Wednesday's attack, but that sectarian strife appears to be growing intense in northern Yemen:

"There have been previous bombs that have [gone] off up in the north in Saada and al Jawf in the region where the Houthis are most active, in previous years, that looked very much like al Qaida and in the end turned out not to be an al Qaida attack. That being said, there has been a great deal of back-and-forth between the Houthis and al Qaida, almost shades of what we saw coming out of Iraq in some of the Shia-Sunni clashes at the height of the war. So, I think if this does turn out to be al Qaida and if the Houthis retaliate, then it could be a very, very dangerous situation."

Johnsen also argues that a fresh conflict could erupt in the long series of wars between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels, which have been going on since 2004:

"Any clashes like this, if it does turn out that al Qaida was behind it, [suggests] that the government would be drawn in, just given all the different linkages. There are so many different individuals, whether it be through tribal connections, whose relatives are employed by the state, or military officials that got killed who also happen to be part of a particular tribe. I just don't see this as a two-sided clash between al Qaida and the Houthis….I think the government would be involved, probably against its better wishes."

A cease-fire was reached last February between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels after intense mediation by the Emir of Qatar. Six wars between the government and the rebels have ended in a stalemate, causing the displacement of close to 300,000 people.

NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

US Companies Pledge Action on Climate Change

Goals include reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent, reducing water usage by 80 percent, and buying 100 percent renewable energy

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

UNICEF: Hidden Epidemic of HIV Among Adolescents

Researchers warn that Asia Pacific nations facing sharp rise in incidence of HIV among adolescents

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs