Security incidents in Yemen, 1999

The list below, compiled from various sources, includes security incidents and related events which appeared to have some political significance. 


October 26: The trial opened in southern Yemen of 13 men (10 of them absent from court) on charges of possessing weapons and attempting to bomb public installations, including a power plant, a police station and a bridge. The prosecution said they were members of a "secret opposition group" who had also attempted to assassinate a judge and attacked a truck, killing one person and injuring the driver.

October 26: Yemen announced that it is to set up special courts to try those accused of kidnapping foreigners and acts of sabotage, including car thefts and attacks on the main oil pipeline.

October 23: Yemen announced a campaign to destroy dozens of private prisons run by tribal leaders. A spokesman said one soldier and a private prison guard had been killed on October 22 when troops moved to destroy a prison in Ibb province. He said five prisons were destroyed in the operation.

October 21: A car exploded at a village in Ibb province, killing 10 people, injuring 22 and severely damaging buildings. Police said the occupants of the car were known dynamite smugglers. The vehicle failed to stop at a checkpoint and police opened fire, causing 300 kg of TNT inside the car to explode. Security sources said the incident was not terrorism-related.

October 21: Tribesmen damaged the main oil pipeline about 120km west of Marib. An oil ministry official said the flow of oil was largely unaffected.

October 17: Abu al-Hassan al-Mihdar, leader of the Islamic Army of Aden-Abyan, executed in connection with the kidnapping of 16 western tourists and the deaths of four of them.

September 20: Abu Hamza al-Masri, London-based associate of Abu al-Hassan (leader of the Islamic Army), says he is willing to stand trial for terrorism in Yemen "but only if they implement Islamic laws in the judicial procedures".

September 20: al-Thawra newspaper reports that Yemeni authorities have confiscated more than 13,167 machine guns and 730 pistols during random searches since a ban on weapons was imposed at the end of August.

September 18: Abdullah al-Hajeri, convicted of killing eight people and injuring dozens in the old market of Sana'a in August, sentenced to death by public beheading at the spot where he committed his crime. Yemeni judges are empowered to specify execution by shooting or public beheading, but this was thought to be the first public beheading sentence in Yemen for some time.

September 13: Marib oil pipeline hit by an explosion carried out by tribesmen. Repaired next day, after leaking 50,000 barrels of oil.

September 3: Gun battle shortly after midnight near the Palestinian Embassy in Hadda Road, Sana'a. A guest at a wedding party fired into the air (in accordance with Yemeni tradition) and police returned fire. Troops arrived with two tanks, one of which burst into the party by driving straight through a garden wall. No injuries reported.

September 3: Police in Sana'a stopped a car driven by Yahya Hamid al-Kharashi, son of Yemen's military police chief, to check for illegal weapons. Shooting broke out. Two police officers and the police chief's son were killed.

September 1: One person killed and two injured when buried dynamite exploded outside a post office in the Dar Saad suburb of Aden.

August 30: Heavy artillery confrontation in al-Dali' between an army camp on one of the hills and three villages - al-Jalila, al-Sawda' and al-Humeira - facing the camp. A security source said anti-tank shells had been fired at the camp. The confrontation resulted in "material losses" in the villages. [Source: ArabicNews]

August 29: Government announces ban on weapons in the main cities, including guns which have previously been licensed by the authorities.

August 28: Massive explosion, followed by a fire, totally destroyed the "City Center" supermarket - the largest in Sana'a. The blast, at 2 am, woke many people and was heard several miles away. Windows were broken over a wide area. Conflicting reports about casualties: some say two, three or nine people died, including Abdullah al-Omeiri, the owner of the supermarket. About 12 people were injured. After forensive tests the authorities said there was no evidence that explosives had been used, and the explosion was caused by gas from cylinders used in the supermarket, mainly for refrigeration. However, they said the cause was criminal - though without any political or terrorist motive.

August 27: Device described as a time bomb exploded in the Tawahi district of Aden, slightly damaging the back wall of the National Bank. No injuries. Two suspects reportedly arrested. Islamic Army, through Abu Hamza al-Masri, claimed responsibility.

August 26: Small explosion(s) in Zinjibar near prison and/or courthouse. Slight damage; nobody was hurt. Islamic Army, through Abu Hamza al-Masri, claimed responsibility.

August 4: Six people killed and more than 40 wounded when a man set off a grenade and opened fire in the salt market in the Old City of Sana'a. Although the government at first denied any political motive, the timing of the incident suggested it might be connected with the appeal court's confirmation of the death sentences on Abu al-Hassan and another member of the Islamic Army. On August 5 Saba news agency described the culprit as a "corrupt extremist" and a police spokesman told AFP that a total of seven suspects had been detained: "We caught them posted on rooftops carrying weapons." (The Islamic Army, through Abu Hamza al-Masri, later claimed responsibility.) However, on August 7, the interior minister said the attack was not politically motivated: "Based on investigations, the crime was the result of an argument between the man who hurled the grenade and four men selling watches.'' The minister said the attacker threw the grenade after the men changed their minds about selling him a watch for 5,000 Yemeni riyals ($31).

August 2: Saba news agency reports that Adel Mohammed Mahmoud Saad, a Yemeni, has been jailed for 10 years and fined one million rials ($6,900) for bombings in the Sheikh 'Uthman district of Aden in 1998.

July 22: Explosion late at night near courthouse in Zinjibar (scene of the "Islamic Army" trial earlier in the year). No injuries reported.

July 20: Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reports that the Yemeni government is losing around 756 million riyals in tax revenue and 250 million riyals in customs duties because of tobacco smuggling.

July 13: al-Thawra newspaper reports that police have raided a hashish farm in Ibb province, a known cannabis-growing area.

July 8: Abu al-Hassan al-Mihdar renews threat to order his followers to kill state officials if his demands are not met.

July 5: Court agrees to consider a belated appeal against the death sentence against Nabil Qasebati, a Spanish national of Syrian origin, who was convicted of bombing charges in October 1998. [Reuters]

July 3: Marib pipeline attacked by tribe who blew a small hole in it, causing leakage of about 16 barrels of oil an hour. [Reuters]

July 1: Policeman sentenced to 10 years in jail, and two soldiers to up to five years, for torturing to death a man held on theft charges. The court, in Mahwit province, heard that the torture lasted three days. The policeman was ordered to pay up to three million rials ($19,000) in "blood money'' to the victim's family. It was the first conviction in a torture case in Yemen. [Reuters]

June 23: Abu al-Hassan al-Mihdar urges his supporters not to launch revenge attacks until a verdict in his appeal is given. [Reuters]

June 23: Two killed and 14 injured in bomb explosion in a shop in Aden. [BBC]

June 20: At least eight people reported dead after clashes over a land dispute between al-Jaradi and al-Jamal tribes in Dhamar province. [BBC]

June 16: Abu al-Hassan al-Mihdar and three others convicted of kidnapping and killing Western tourists appeal against their sentences. [Reuters]

June 5: Mohammed al-Musheidi, consul in the Yemeni Embassy in Jordan, shot dead - reportedly by a drunken Yemeni gunman. Another diplomat, Fouad Zuheiry, was wounded. A Jordanian official name the gunman as Ahmed al-Haddad and said he was an embassy employee who had shot the consul in a dispute about a ticket to visit Yemen. An embassy official said the gunman was angry because the embassy had managed to obtain only part of his remuneration from a former Jordanian employer.

May 27: Interior minister says Yemen has arrested 15 suspects who were "planning actions to disturb security and stability in the country" - allegedly by attacking foreign targets. He says they have "close links" with Abu Hamza and also with the Islamic Army. The minister says seven of the suspects are of Yemeni origin but hold citizenship of "a neighbouring country". The nationality of the other eight is not specified.

May 24: Security sources report that tribesmen have blown another hole in the Marib oil pipeline, in the al-A'aroush area of Khowlan at kilometre 134. The pipeline was reportedly leaking 520 barrels an hour.

May 19: Oil ministry says an explosion caused by tribesmen damaged the Marib oil pipeline between Marib city and the Serwah area, at Kilometre 70.

May 17: Three teenagers killed by a land mine left over from the 1994 war in Hiswa, west of Aden. It is thought that about 58,000 mines were laid around Aden during the conflict.

May 13: Journalists' union official says that four masked men went to the home of Saif al-Hadheri, the editor of the independent weekly al-Shumuaa, a few days earlier, and beat him repeatedly. He was treated in hosptial for multiple injuries.

May 13: A youth aged 18 is shot dead for raping a four-year-old boy, after being sentenced to death by village elders in Asfal Gargar, Abyan.

April 20: Ali Mohammad Mahmoud Saad, aged 17, goes on trial accused of causing an explosion near a police station in Aden in September 1998 which killed two people, including an 8-year-old child.

April 17-21: Fighting with automatic weapons and mortar shells in a long-running feud between the Dawla and Maraziq tribes in Shabwa province left at least four people dead. The Dawla tribe ruled the Nusab district of Shabwa as sultans during the British protectorate which the Maraziq opposed. When the British left in 1967, the Dawla also left but returned after unification of Yemen in 1990.

April 17: Interior Minister says security services "recently" foiled an attempt to kidnap a judge in Dhamar province. Ten people arrested.

April 9: Customs officers in Moldova found 5,000 guns aboard a Ukrainian cargo plane which was bound for Yemen. The aircraft, which was travelling from Budapest to Yemen via Sofia, made an unscheduled stop at Chisinau in Moldova for technical reasons. Documents presented to customs claimed it was carrying oil equipment and did not mention the weapons - 4,000 Hungarian-made R-61 pistols and 1,000 P-9M pistols.

April 7: Mohammed Aziz Abu Nashtan, a member of the YSP central committee and the head of the party's branch in the Sana'a governorate, shot dead in the airport district. A gun battle followed and one of the attackers was also killed. The YSP said the aim of the attack was to terrorise the party. A government spokesman said, quoted by SABA news agency, said there was no political motive. "He was the victim of an act of vengeance which was sparked 20 years ago."

March 31: Canadian police detain Mahmoud Es-Sayy Jaballah, a teacher from Egypt who is seeking asylum for himself and his family. Police said he had been implicated but later cleared of complicity in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Jaballah travelled to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen and Azerbaijan before arriving in Canada in May, 1996.

February 18: Deputy interior minister says Yemen has expelled 1,827 illegal immigrants during recent months as part of the government's security campaign. They include 869 Arabs, 725 Africans and 233 Asians (al-Khalij newspaper, UAE, 19.2.99).

February 9: Attariq newspaper reports that the body of a soldier has been found in Qa'taba, al-Dali' province, with both hands and feet cut off.

February 6: Al-Ayyam newspaper reports official statistics showing that 780 crimes were committed in Lahij during 1998. These included 23 explosions, 26 killings, and 39 crimes arising out of land disputes. Most of the explosions were in Radfan.

February 4: Fire destroyed the house of former PDRY president Ali Nasser Muhammad in Aden. Ex-president Muhammad lives abroad, but relatives escaped in their night-clothes when the blaze broke out in the early hours of the morning. The cause of the fire, which started on the roof, is being investigated (al-Ayyam, 6.2.99).

February 2: Al-Wahdawi newspaper reports that a boy aged 9 was killed in a tribal war which had been raging for the past two weeks between al-Hanshat and 'Iyal Sayyad in Nahm, Sana'a province. Sources said that the war, in which heavy artillery was used, started when a Hanshat man was killed on the Sana'a-Marib road.

February 2: Al-Wahdawi newspaper reports that a man and a woman have died in sporadic shooting between two areas in Sabir, Taiz province, over ownership of a water project.

January 20: Marib oil pipeline attacked again (al-Ayyam, 23.1.99)

January 17: Marib oil pipeline attacked again (al-Ayyam, 23.1.99)

January 12: Al-Wahdawi newspaper reports that the Interior Ministry is still holding seven people arrested in connection with the explosion at al-Khair mosque in April 1998, contrary to the constitution.

January 11: The director of the taxes department in Ibb province was shot at by unknown men in front of his house but escaped unhurt (Attariq, 12.1.99) The director of the taxes department in Ibb province was shot at by unknown men in front of his house but escaped unhurt (Attariq, 12.1.99)

January 10: Al-Shoura newspaper reports that unknown armed men fired automatic rifles at a car belonging to the commander of the Ninth Mechanised Brigade stationed in Jawf province more than a week earlier. The commander was not in the car but a soldier was injured. Al-Shoura newspaper reports that unknown armed men fired automatic rifles at a car belonging to the commander of the Ninth Mechanised Brigade stationed in Jawf province more than a week earlier. The commander was not in the car but a soldier was injured.