AL-MUKALLA: A Houthi religious leader shot dead a cardiologist and his brother and wounded several others for denouncing his sermons at a mosque in the southern Yemeni province of Taiz, residents and officials reported on Monday.
Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesman in Taiz city, told Arab News that Azit Al-Azi Abdul Nour opened fire at a gathering in Maqbanah district when a number of people took exception to his radical preaching.
Ahmed Al-Shameri, a cardiologist, and his brother Hamoud were killed in the shooting and others, including a child, were injured.
“The Houthi preacher angered locals after insulting the prophet’s companions and wives,” Al-Baher said.
He added that locals disconnected electricity from the small mosque where the Houthi was giving his address when he refused to stop speaking and members of the Iran-backed militant group sneaked him out of the building as tensions mounted and residents demanded justice.
Separately, an international rights group said on Monday that Houthis had abducted a group of residents from a small village in Yemen’s Al-Mahwit province for allegedly tearing down and removing images bearing slogans of Iranian and Hezbollah leaders.
Abdurrahman Barman, a Yemeni human rights advocate and director of the American Center for Justice (ACJ), told Arab News that heavily armed Houthis in three military vehicles descended on Al-Oura village in Shibam Kawkaban district and abducted 42 people, including children.
Those seized were accused of taking down pictures of the late Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah from streets and walls of their homes.
The Houthis released the villagers three days later after a tribal mediation in which it was agreed they would attend a local police station when the Eid break was over.
Following interviews with relatives of the captured villagers, the ACJ said that the abductees had been subjected to psychological and physical torture in a bid to force confessions out of them.
“Our children and women are living in great fear at that moment, and some women have fallen ill from the terrible tragedy as the Houthi forces stormed houses and pointed their weapons at people,” one relative reportedly told the organization.
Meanwhile, Yemen’s information minister, Moammar Al- Eryani, on Monday strongly condemned a Houthi drone strike on Sunday on a local market in Al-Durihimi district, south of Hodeidah province, that killed a civilian and wounded several others.
He called on the UN mission responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement in Hodeidah to condemn the shelling of civilian targets which was in breach of the terms of the deal.
In a tweet, Al-Eryani said: “This heinous terrorist crime is a continuation of the crimes and violations committed by the Houthi militia against citizens in liberated areas of Hodeidah, shelling with artillery, mortars, drones, planting mines, IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on public roads, whose victims are civilians, including children and women.”
Without naming the Houthis, Gen. Abhijit Guha, head of the UN mission in Hodeidah, condemned the drone strike.
Gen. Guha urged warring factions on Monday to adhere to their pledges to avoid targeting civilians during military operations.
“I urge the parties to respect the sanctity of human life and protect civilians as per their obligations and undertake steps that will move further toward peace in the governorate and across Yemen,” he said in a statement seen by Arab News.