Suicide bomber targets police chief in Yemen’s Aden, kills 7

Updated 17 January 2016
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Suicide bomber targets police chief in Yemen’s Aden, kills 7

SANAA, Yemen: A suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the police chief’s house in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on Sunday, killing seven civilians and security forces in a failed assassination attempt after militants killed two other security officials elsewhere in the country.
Police Chief Shallal Al-Shayei survived a similar assassination attempt last month, as did the governor of the province, which forces loyal to the internationally recognized government pried away from Shiite Houthi rebels last year. Aden’s previous governor was killed in an attack claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate.
Ambulances raced to the police chief’s house after the explosion, which could be heard across the city, witnesses said. Officials said an armored vehicle blocked the suicide car bomber meters from the gates of the house. Seven people were killed and 12 injured after the explosion ripped through a bus that was passing by.
Yemen has been mired in a conflict pitting the Shiite Houthi rebels against the internationally-backed government, which is allied with a Saudi-led coalition. The fighting has killed more than 5,800 people since last March, when the coalition began striking Houthi targets from the air.
The chaos has allowed a powerful local Al-Qaeda affiliate and a more recently formed branch of the Daesh group to expand their reach, including in Aden, Yemen’s commercial hub.
US drones have carried out a number of strikes since the start of the year targeting Al-Qaeda militants, according to security officials and witnesses, who said drone strikes killed 13 militants on Sunday in Jaar, a town seized by Al-Qaeda last year. They did not know the affiliation of the militants.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the account. US officials rarely speak publicly about the covert drone program.
The Saudi-led coalition meanwhile appears to have stepped up airstrikes in northern Yemen targeting the Houthis and allied army units loyal to a former president. Residents said the coalition launched at least 35 strikes on Sunday in the capital and the northern province of Jawf.
In Saada, the Houthis’ northern heartland, Houthi officials and witnesses said an air raid killed at least 30 people on Saturday. It was not clear if they were civilians or fighters.
Elsewhere in Yemen, Police Chief Adel Al-Asbahi of Bayda province was killed by a bomb planted in his vehicle on Sunday, while Mohammed Al-Dhali, of the special forces, was gunned down by attackers on a motorcycle in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. No group has claimed responsibility for the killings.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. Witnesses requested anonymity for security reasons.


Tens of thousands protest in Morocco over jailed Rif activists

Updated 43 sec ago
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Tens of thousands protest in Morocco over jailed Rif activists

RABAT: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Morocco’s capital Rabat on Sunday to demonstrate against the jailing of leaders of a protest movement in the predominantly Berber region of Rif.
Carrying pictures of the detained activists and waving Berber blue, green, yellow and red flags, demonstrators chanted “Freedom, dignity and social justice,” “Long live the Rif,” and “The people want immediate release of Rif detainees.”
In June, a court in Casablanca sentenced 39 people, including protest leader Nasser Zefzafi, to terms of up to 20 years in jail in connection with a protest movement that shook Morocco in late 2016 and early 2017.
The protests erupted after a fishmonger was crushed inside a rubbish truck while trying to recover fish confiscated by police in the northern city of Al-Hoceima in October 2016.
Detainees and their families had called for Sunday’s march, which brought together Berber (Amazigh) groups, leftist opposition parties, human rights groups and the banned movement Al-Adl Wal-Ihsan.
Detainees’ relatives, exhausted by a 12-hour bus journey from Al-Hoceima to Rabat, expressed grief and frustration as they marched.
“We will keep up our protests until the release of our sons,” Zefzafi’s mother Zoulikha told Reuters.
Addressing crowds that activists said numbered at least 30,000, Zefzafi’s father, Ahmed, invoked post-independence grievances and marginalization in the Rif region and denounced what he called a political verdict.
“Rif is uniting Morocco in this march,” he said.
Moroccan authorities estimated that 6,000 to 8,000 of protesters at the march were Al-Adl wal-Ihsan supporters. They did not give an overall estimate of the crowd size.
The Al-Hoceima demonstrations, along with protests in the mining town of Jerada in early 2018, marked the biggest unrest in Morocco since Arab Spring protests in 2011 prompted King Mohammed VI to devolve some of his powers to an elected parliament.
After the Rif protests the king dismissed three ministers and various other officials over a lack of progress in a development plan for the Rif.