The United Nations Security Council has said it is gravely concerned about the violence in Yemen, two days ahead of a visit to the country by the international body’s human rights watchdog.
A statement issued by the Council after a special briefing on Friday said member states “expressed grave concern on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Yemen” and “urged all parties to show maximum restraint and to engage in an inclusive political dialogue.”
The statement reflected a shift within the Council’s politics: Until Friday, veto-wielding permanent members Russia and China were believed to oppose any statement that either urged restraint or condemned the government’s violence against protesters. Western nations who support the negotiations led by the Gulf Cooperation Council to ease President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power wanted such a statement.
Council members issued the statement after listening to a briefing from Jamal Ben Omar, the UN’s special advisor on Yemen. It came days ahead of a 10-day visit by representatives from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who will arrive in Yemen on Monday for the first time since protests against Saleh’s rule began in January.
Deaths in Aden
Meanwhile, unrest and violence continued in the southern Gulf nation. At least four people, including three soldiers, were killed in violence in the southern port city of Aden, according to officials and medics.
A bomb-laden car exploded at an army post, killing the soldiers, a security official told the AFP news agency.
The officials did not blame the attack on any party and no side has yet claimed responsibility.
This attack came after Yemeni security forces opened fire on protesters at a funeral in the city, killing at least one demonstrator and injuring six others, medics and witnesses said.
Thousands of anti-government protesters used the funeral to call on Saleh to step down. Since suffering injuries in an bomb attack earlier this month in Sanaa, he has been undergoing treatment in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The funeral was being held for a man identified as Ahmed Darwish, a 25-year-old who local rights groups say died in custody last June after being arrested in connection with a suspected al-Qaeda attack on an intelligence office in Aden in which 11 people were killed.
Darwish’s family had refused to bury him since his death, demanding an investigation, and his body had been stored at a government hospital in the port city until Friday.
After the shooting, the funeral procession proceeded towards the cemetery, witnesses said.
Meanwhile, rival crowds of pro-Saleh supporters and those opposed to his return gathered once again in Sanaa, the capital, with anti-government protesters also staging demonstrations in 16 other cities and towns.
Ameen al Himyari, a Yemeni academic, told Al Jazeera that Saleh had left Yemen in political limbo by failing to transfer power to his vice-president when he left to undergo medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
Himyari said Yemen was currently being run by Saleh’s sons, the security forces and tribal elements still loyal to the government. While Saleh had lost the support of the crucial Hashed tribe, some elements within the tribe still supported him, he said.