Al Mukalla: In the latest series of attacks on Yemeni journalists inside Al Houthi-controlled territories, several unidentified men savagely beat a well-known journalist in the heart of Sana’a while another journalist managed to escape.
Nayef Hassan, the editor of Al Sharye newspaper, was assaulted on Saturday as he was leaving his house, according to Nabeel Al Osaidi, the head of the Training Committee at Yemen Journalist Syndicate, an NGO that advocates for journalists rights, told Gulf News on Sunday.
It was unclear why Hassan was targeted since he is not known to be a vocal critic of politicians in Yemen and his newspaper has halted printing since August last year.
“The attackers were waiting for Hassan outside his house. They first put a gun to his head and then proceeded to beat him with sticks and rocks,” said Al Osaidi, who was briefed about the incident.
Attacks on journalists critical of Iran-backed Al Houthi occupation of the country have been on the rise. However, it marked the first time that the perpetrators had chosen not to wear masks. “They appeared fearless as they know that no one would hold them accountable for the assault,” the syndicate said.
Hassan’s friends say that his condition is stable even as he is being treated for severe injuries to the mouth, hand and other parts of the body.
A photo posted on social media showed Hassan apparently sleeping with his hand swathed in bandages.
In the wake of the attack on Hassan, another journalist said that he had escaped a kidnapping bid by unknown men on Saturday as he was walking on the streets of Sana’a on Saturday.
Fatehi Abu Al Nasser, assistant managing editor of the socialist Al Thawri newspaper, said on his Facebook that the men approached him in an unregistered black car and asked him to get into or they “would break his leg”.
Al Nasser said he managed to run away and flag down a taxi that drove him away from the area.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks but, as with previous attacks, the syndicate believes that the Al Houthis are behind the attacks. Since taking over the capital in September 2014, they have launched a campaign against dissent.
“We hold the de facto rulers of the country [Al Houthis] responsibility for the attacks. They are in charge of security in the city and no one would dare to do such a thing unless by their direction,” Al Osaidi said.
In January, armed men brutally attacked Nabeel Soubye, a Yemeni journalist who had been critical of the Al Houthis in his satirical articles.
The syndicate says that freedom of expression is under serious threat with the Al Houthis storming opposition media outlets and rounding up journalists and activists.
Al Osaidi said that the recent hit and run attacks on journalists represent a shift in the militants’ tactics to intimidate journalists.
“Instead of abduction that would trigger strong condemnation, they [Al Houthis] beat and shoot a journalist and leave him in the street. They have closed all oppositions newspapers, blocked more than 70 news site, and cut salaries of dozens of journalists. They have detained 12 journalists and exposed them to psychological and physical torture,” he said.