Yemen has been torn by rising violence and lawlessness as the
U.S.-allied country struggles to overcome political turmoil after
long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down following
months of mass protests against his rule in 2011.
Officials said that Ahmad Sharafeddin, a Houthi delegate at the
reconciliation talks who had been dean of the law faculty at Sanaa
University, was killed when gunmen opened fire on him in his vehicle
from a speeding car in central Sanaa.
They said he died instantly and the gunmen escaped.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the assassination, but
another Houthi leader, Abdulkarim al-Khiwani, accused hardline Sunni
Muslim militants of carrying out the attack.
The Houthi group fought radical Sunni Salafis in northern Yemen from
October until earlier this month, when a ceasefire was reached
earlier 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.
More than 210 people have been killed in the fighting that erupted
in late October after the Houthis accused the Salafis of recruiting
foreign militants in preparation to attack them.
The Salafis, who follow an austere brand of Sunni Islam, say the
foreigners are students of Islamic theology.
The sectarian rivalry
has cast a shadow over reconciliation efforts in Yemen, a neighbor
of top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and home to one of al Qaeda's most
[to top of second column]
Tuesday's attack was the latest in a string of killings against
high-profile Yemenis and foreigners. Last week an Iranian diplomat
was killed in Sanaa when he resisted gunmen who were trying to
Despite the challenging security conditions, President Abd-Rabbu
Mansour Hadi addressed the final session of the reconciliation
talks, which is due to produce a new constitution for Yemen and
approve a federal system for the country.
The talks, which began in March last year, have been stuck on
southern separatist demands to revive the state that merged with
North Yemen in 1990.
The delegates have agreed on a federal system but have yet to work
out some of the details, which will be tackled by a special
committee headed by Hadi.
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by
Yara Bayoumy and Tom Heneghan)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.