Last updated: 23 December, 2014

5 bombs hit Yemen capital, Shiite militiaman killed

Several Shiite militiamen were killed in two Yemeni cities on Tuesday in a series of bomb attacks and a drive-by shooting, a medic and witnesses said.

Five small bombs hit the centre of the capital Sanaa, which has been mostly controlled by the Ansarullah militiamen since September, killing one and wounding two, a medic said.

The first explosion went off in the old quarter of Sanaa when one of the militiamen, also known as Huthis, tried to defuse a bomb found underneath the car of a judge.

He died later in hospital, the medic said.

Another four devices planted in garbage containers in the same Bustan al-Sultan neighbourhood then exploded within intervals of about five minutes, an AFP correspondent reported.

The Huthis, who fought authorities for a decade in their northern stronghold, overran Sanaa on September 21 and have since expanded to coastal areas and southern regions.

In a separate attack on Tuesday, a prominent Huthi figure, Faisal Sherif, was shot dead near the University of Sanaa by two gunmen on a motorbike, witnesses and a Huthi source said.

Tribal sources in the central city of Rada said that an explosive device detonated underneath a vehicle carrying Huthi militiamen, killing several fighters.

One source put the number of dead at five, but this toll could not be independently confirmed.

Yemen has been wracked by unrest as the Huthi advance is met by fierce opposition from Sunni tribes backed by Yemen’s powerful Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Arabian Peninsula country is also facing continued violence in its restive south, where separatists are pushing for the restoration of independence.

Police on Tuesday shot dead a southern separatist and wounded four more as security forces confronted protesters in Ataq, the provincial capital of Shabwa province, Southern Movement activists said.

A security official confirmed the toll, adding that police tried to stop protesters from storming the local government offices.

Businesses and schools in Ataq have been closed for two days, witnesses said.

Every Monday, separatists in southern regions organise a day of civil disobedience.

A senior separatist, Khaled al-Junaidi, was shot dead by security forces earlier this month during one such protest.

South Yemen was independent from the end of British colonial rule in 1967 until 1990, when it joined the north.