Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Houthi movement is using residential apartments as secret prisons in several cities in Yemen, including the capital, Sana’a, and the northwestern town of Amran, a source told Asharq Al-Awsat, as fighting continued in the north between the Shi’ite group and radical Sunni militants.
Dozens of the rebel group’s opponents are currently being held in makeshift prisons setup by the Houthis who control large parts of central and north Yemen, a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Asharq Al-Awsat.
On September 21 supporters of the Houthi rebel leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi stormed key government buildings in Sana’a after a month-long protest against what they believed was discrimination by the Sunni-led government.
Pro-Houthi militias, known as People’s Committees, arrested three Yemeni intelligence officers before taking them blindfolded to an apartment block in Sana’a, a relative of one of the detainees told Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal attacks. The three officers were later released after government mediation. “The officers told me that they found several people detained in the apartment and their fate remains unknown until now,” the source said.
Houthis are using a football stadium in the city of Amran, 30 miles (50 km) north of Sana’a, as a large detention center, a local source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Elsewhere in Yemen, Houthis withdrew from the central Al-Bayda governorate after they lost 16 fighters during violent clashes with militants affiliated with the Ansar Al-Sharia group, an Al-Qaeda off-shoot, local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
In another sign of the growing violence gripping Yemen, fighting between Houthis and security guards erupted near the special security forces compound in Rada’a. No details of the fighting were immediately available.
Security sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity attributed the clashes to the Houthis’ strategy of controlling key security and military buildings across the country.
Hamdan Al-Rahbi contributed reporting from Sana’a