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41 journalists held captive by Houthis in Yemen

December 6, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Houthis in Sanaa, Yemen, 6 December 2017 [Abdullah Homran/Anadolu Agency]

Some 41 Yemeni journalists have been held captive by Houthi fighters at the television station in Sana’a, Al Jazeera reported today.

Rocket-propelled grenades were fired towards the Yemen Today TV headquarters on Saturday before it was raided by the Houthis, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.

“We condemn the violent actions towards journalists by the Houthis, which constitute serious violations of the Geneva Conventions,” Alexandra El Khazen, head of RSF’s Middle East desk, said.

“This hostage-taking is typical of the climate of hostility in Yemen towards journalists who are often targeted in this conflict. We call on the Houthi rebels to immediately release the TV channel’s journalists,” El Khazen continued.

Yemen’s minister of information called upon the Houthi armed group to release the journalists and urged international organisations to “leave the status of passive onlookers and take acts to press the militias to stop tormenting all the Yemeni journalists”, Muammar Al- Eryani told Saba Net.

The employees at Yemen Today TV were forced to give up passwords to Houthi fighters.

Yemen: Slain Saleh’s son calls for revenge against Houthis

Yemen Today TV was affiliated to the General People’s Congress party, which was led by the slain former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Houthis killed Saleh on Monday as he attempted to flee war-torn Sana’a in a vehicle with his comrades.

Saleh severed ties with the Houthi group on Saturday and called upon Saudi Arabia to open dialogue over the Yemen crisis. The Houthi group declared the act to be treachery.

Saudi Arabia has since increased its air war in support of Saleh loyalists with recent strikes focusing on Sana’a.

Despite the uptick in conflict in Yemen, “airstrikes have continued while ground fighting and shelling have reduced”, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the Washington Post yesterday at the UN.

A number of journalists have been arrested by actors in Yemen, including prominent activist Hisham Al-Omeisy who was captured by the Houthis in August. It is unclear what type of conditions Al-Omeisy is being held under.

Yemen has been devastated by a war between forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and those allied to the Houthi rebel group which were, until this weekend, allied with fighters loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Profile: Ali Abdullah Saleh (21 March 1942 -4 December 2017)