Yemen’s violent unrest continues ahead of the scheduled presidential election, which opposition groups will boycott. Al Qaeda-linked militants in south Yemen continue to assert control over seized territory.
Al Qaeda-linked militants executed men accused of assisting the United States. A Yemeni security official reported that the executions occurred in Azzan in Shabwah governorate and in Jaar in Abyan governorate. Residents reported that two Saudis and a Yemeni were beheaded at dawn; a spokesman for the militants denied that any were Saudi citizens. The three were accused of planting electronic devices that sent information on militant positions. Ansar al Sharia, an insurgent al Qaeda-linked organization, seized control of Jaar in March 2011 and al Qaeda militants operate openly in Azzan.
Violence has broken out at election protests. In Aden, a group of southern separatists set fire to an anti-government protest camp in Crater district late Saturday. Many protesters see the February 21 presidential election as a mechanism of formally removing President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. The Southern Movement remains factionalized, and three separate factions denounced the violence. Two people were killed at a Southern Movement march protesting the election in Dhaleh Thursday. The sole candidate for the election, Vice President Abdul Rab Mansour al Hadi, announced that he will pursue reconciliation with the separatists and the al Houthis, who have also called for election boycotts.
A ceasefire agreement between al Houthis and Sunni tribesmen in Hajjah failed to end the violence. Local sources reported that at least 30 people had been killed in fighting in Ahm and Kushar districts in Hajjah governorate. The ceasefire was agreed upon Thursday. Wednesday, at least 10 people had been killed in Hajjah, according to the Yemeni defense ministry.
Local government and security officials are the targets of assassination attempts. Saturday, a military intelligence chief in al Bayda governorate was shot dead. Security officials believe the gunmen were linked to al Qaeda. Thursday, the head of the criminal investigations department in Hawta in Lahij governorate was gunned down on his way home from work.