Gunmen kill leading figure in Yemeni Shi'ite Muslim group

by Reuters
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 07:45 GMT

SANAA, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Unknown assailants shot and killed a leader of the Yemeni Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group in Sanaa on Tuesday while he was on his way to attend reconciliation talks in the Yemeni capital, officials at the talks said.

They said the gunmen opened fire on Ahmad Sharafeddin, a former dean of the school of law at Sanaa University, and he died immediately.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the assassination, but another Houthi leader, Abdulkarim al-Khiwani, accused hardline Sunni militants of carrying out the attack.

The Houthi group has fought hardline Sunni Salafis in northern Yemen since October before a ceasefire was reached earlier this month to relocate the Salafis to another city some 250 km (155 miles) away. But clashes have continued in other parts of northern Yemen with tribesmen allied to the Salafis.

The sectarian rivalry has cast a shadow over reconciliation efforts in Yemen, a neighbour of top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and home to one of al Qaeda's most active wings. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by Yara Bayoumy)

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