middle east

Yemen arrests suspect in UN staffer killing — official

Authorities in Yemen have arrested a suspect in the killing of a World Food Programme (WFP) staffer in Taez province, a security official told AFP on Saturday.

Moayad Hameidi, the head of the UN agency’s office in Taez, was killed in a shooting on Friday in the nearby city of Turbah, the Rome-based WFP has confirmed.

“The perpetrator of the criminal assassination of the United Nations employee in the city of Turbah in Taez [province]… has been in the city of Taez since 2017, after fleeing Aden due to security operations against Al Qaeda operatives,” the security official said late Friday.

Speaking on condition on anonymity, the Taez province official was unable to confirm whether the suspect belonged to the extremist group.

The official later told AFP that the man previously identified as the main suspect had been arrested, while another suspect was still at large.

“Fifteen other members of a terrorist organisation active in the Turbah region” were also at large, the source added.

Aden has been the seat of Yemen’s internationally recognised government since Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

The conflict escalated the following year when a Saudi-led coalition intervened in support of the government.

Fighting has eased over the past year, although sporadic attacks continue.

Taez is controlled by the government but is surrounded by areas under Houthi control.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and militants loyal to the Daesh group have thrived in the chaos of Yemen’s war.

The Saudi-led coalition as well as the United States and UAE-backed forces have clamped down on militants in Yemen.

In an initial statement on Friday, the WFP said it was “deeply saddened” by the death of its employee.

The agency later announced , “Moayad Hameidi, a Jordanian national, died shortly after being transferred to hospital”.

He “was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on Friday afternoon in Turbah”, it added.

“A dedicated humanitarian, Hameidi, had worked for WFP for 18 years, including a previous stint in Yemen as well as time in Sudan, Syria, and Iraq.”

WFP’s Yemen country director, Richard Ragan, said: “Any loss of life in humanitarian service is an unacceptable tragedy.”

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said in a tweet: “Our deepest condolences go out to Moayad’s family, friends, and colleagues. And we mourn his tragic loss with the humanitarian community in Yemen.”

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