(AFP) – May 11, 2010
SANAA — A driver was killed as fellow tribesmen of an arrested arms dealer fired at a police convoy taking him to a Sanaa court on Tuesday, a Yemeni security source and witnesses said.
The mini-bus driver died and a policeman was wounded when the gunmen fired at the convoy transporting Sheikh Fares Manaa, arrested in late January for allegedly trafficking arms to Shiite rebels in northern Yemen, the source said.
A woman was also shot and wounded as she drove by at the time of the attack, he added, while witnesses identified the gunmen as members of Manaa's tribe.
The convoy managed, however, to reach the court, which decided to keep Manaa in custody for 25 more days to "complete the investigations," a judicial source told AFP.
The government had put Manaa's name at the top of a blacklist of arms dealers published on the front page of an official newspaper last October.
Manaa, who is a brother of the governor of Saada province in the north, formerly headed a committee mediating in last year's war between the government and Saada-based Zaidi Shiite rebels, also known as Huthis.
Local sources said upon Manaa's arrest that the rebels had stolen weapons from arms depots which he owned. He had not reported the theft until two days later, allowing the rebels to make off with around 20 truckloads of arms.
The sources said the incident angered Sanaa, which had been pressing an all-out assault on the Huthis since August.
Gun ownership has long been a key part of Yemeni culture. The country has an estimated 60 million firearms in private hands, roughly three for every man, woman and child.
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