CAIRO (Reuters) - Gunmen from Yemen’s Houthi movement detained a local journalist and five activists after a raid on an apartment in the capital Sanaa on Saturday, activists said, the latest detention of a reporter in the war-ravaged country.
The gunmen stormed the apartment at dawn and took journalist Nabil al-Sharabi and the activists to an unknown location. The Houthis had fired guns when the men attempted to escape, activists said.
Representatives of the Iran-allied Houthi movement were not immediately reachable for comment. Human Rights Watch says the Houthis have detained numerous political opposition figures, activists, and journalists.
Fighters loyal to Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi are battling the Houthis and loyalists of the country’s former leader in a war that has killed about 6,000 people.
Sharabi, the detained journalist, had worked for local daily Akhbar al-Youm, which the Houthis closed down after taking control of Sanaa in 2014.
Hadi fled Sanaa in 2015, after the Houthis — a Yemeni militia that hails from the Zaydi branch of Shi’ite Islam — seized his presidential palace.
The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate says the Houthis have been holding 12 other journalists for several months after accusing them of acting against the movement and of supporting Hadi’s government.
Hadi has managed to re-base in Aden, Yemen’s second-largest city, where his government is trying to project authority after its loyalists, backed by Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab forces, seized it back from Houthi forces in July.
Last week unidentified gunmen abducted and later released two journalists and a driver working for the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Arabic TV channel in the southwestern city of Taiz.
Yemen is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The group said last week that at least 17 journalists and media workers were being held hostage in Yemen by armed groups including the Houthis.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Angus MacSwan