SANAA: Gunmen in Yemen on Saturday killed three guards of a leader of the Huthi Shiite rebels who escaped the assassination bid in Sanaa where he is taking part in a national dialogue, witnesses said.
The gunmen opened fire at the vehicle of Abdulwahid Abu Ras, the rebel chief in the northern province of AlJawf, in Nasr Street in the capital shortly after the morning session of the talks, witnesses said.
Three guards were killed and two were wounded, they said.
Saba state news agency cited the head of the national dialogue, Abdulwahab Al Ansi, as condemning the attack on Abu Ras during the afternoon session of talks.
“The aim (of the assassination attempt) was to push us to withdraw from the dialogue, but we will not do so,” said Abdulkarim Jadban, a leader of the group.
“What we fear is that there will (also) be a plot to target the southerners to make them withdraw from participating in the conference.”
Yemeni factions began last week a national dialogue aimed at drafting a new constitution and an electoral law for the 2014 general election and presidential polls.
The dialogue, scheduled to run for six months, brings together 565 representatives of the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country’s various political groups — from secessionists in the south to Zaidi Shiite rebels in the north, in addition to civil society representatives.
The negotiations are being held under the UN-brokered deal that eased former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office in February 2012 following an 11-month uprising against his 33-year rule.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s transitional two-year government, whose term ends after elections next February, is also battling an insurgency by militants in parts of southern Yemen.
The fractured nature of the country’s politics, as well as competing tribal and regional loyalties, complicate the talks’ goals of drafting a new constitution and reuniting the army after it split into rival forces two years ago.