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Yemeni government, Houthis exchange accusations over Sana’a deaths - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Followers of the Shi'ite Houthi movement stand in front of riot police near the cabinet building in Sana'a, Yemen, on September 9, 2014. (Reuters/Mohamed Al-Sayaghi)

Followers of the Shi’ite Houthi movement stand in front of riot police near the cabinet building in Sana’a, Yemen, on September 9, 2014. (Reuters/Mohamed Al-Sayaghi)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemeni and Houthi officials exchanged accusations of responsibility after a number of Houthi protesters and government security officers were killed in clashes in the capital Sana’a on Tuesday.

Houthi protesters attempted to storm a government building in Sana’a but were forced back by guards, a Yemeni security official told Asharq Al-Awsat. At least 10 people were killed in the clashes, including security officials and Houthi protesters.

“The Houthis are responsible for incitement and attempting to storm the government building and Sana’a’s radio station,” a Yemeni Higher Security Committee official said.

The official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, denied that Yemen’s security forces had fired live ammunition at the advancing Houthi protesters.

“Houthi leaders are responsible for inciting their supporters to storm public buildings and for all the losses of life caused by this,” the Yemeni Higher Security Committee official said.

A Yemeni Interior Ministry official, speaking to the state-owned SABA news agency, denied that the Houthi protesters had been able to gain access to the cabinet building, stressing that Yemen’s security officials had carried out their mission and prevented the security infiltration.

Hassan Zaid, secretary-general of Yemen’s Al-Haq Party, which has close ties to the Houthi movement, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that attempts were being made to de-escalate the situation following Tuesday’s violence.

“We are trying to calm the situation down, and we call on . . . [the Houthis] to avoid any reaction to the crime that took place [on Tuesday]. This is a heinous crime and we condemn it and it must not go unpunished. It is true that this area [of the capital] is sensitive, but the use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters is completely unacceptable,” Zaid said.

The Al-Haq Party leader denied that the Houthi protesters were armed, adding that the Yemeni security officials were the only ones firing.

“We offer our condolences to the Yemeni people and demand punishment for whoever issued the order to open fire . . . We [also] call on [Houthi leader] Abdul Malik Al-Houthi not to turn Sana’a into another Somalia.”