Armed men attempt to blow up Salafi center in Dhamar
The explosion took place just 20 meters from the entrance of Al-Noor mosque in the city – the second largest Salafi School in Yemen.
“The police in Jahran district have started investigating the background of the blast, which did not cause any damage except smashed glass as the window of a nearby surrounding house and a window of another car parked near the house,” a security source told the Yemen Times.
“The blast during a critical time with ongoing blockade on Damaj in Sa’ada by the Houthis [Shiites],” said Mohamed Al-Jahrani, a Salafi supporter in Ma’br.
The School in Ma’br is one of the major Salafi teaching headquarters in Yemen where over 1,500 students come for Islamic-Salafi education from Yemen and other Arab countries, according to Al-Jahrani.
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Abdullah Al-Emam, who received his Islamic-Salafi studies in Damaj by the late Sheikh Moqbil Al-Wadee, first founder of Salafi-schools in Yemen is the Salafi leader who runs the school.
He added that the Al-Noor mosque also acts as a school and library and has a student hostel close to the mosque.
“The attack carries the markings of a group working to trap Yemen in sectarian conflict through bringing about a war between the Houthi movement and Salafis’ followers in order to achieve political goals, which do support either the Salafis nor the Houthis,” Al-Jahrani said.
Al-Jahrani denied that the Houthis may have carried out the attack saying “they have nothing to do with the explosion”.
The Salafi School in Ma’br of Dhamar was established in the 1980s. The mosque is about 4,000 square meters and can accommodate more than 10,000 Muslims for prayers.
In Damaj where Houthis have been clashing with Salafis, a ten-month baby girl was shot dead on Saturday by a Houthi sniper while in her father’s arms, a Salafi student told the Yemen Times on Sunday.
However, the Houthis again denied Salafi allegations, claiming the accusations are part of a “media campaign against the Houthis”.
“The situation is quiet in Damaj,” said the Houthi’s chief media officer. “The road is open and there are no problems except some breaching of the ceasefire.”
The fighting between the two sides erupted two months ago and is still ongoing. Despite claims that a weeks-long blockade of the Salafi Damaj area had been somewhat lifted, locals complain of food and fuel shortages.
On Friday four Salafi students including one armed man were killed in gun-fire exchange over military positions in the surrounding mountains, according to the Salafi student.
Both sides are armed, but the Houthis are more military advanced according to an independent local source, who told the Yemen Times that the Houthis have tanks, artillery and mortars whereas the Salafis have mostly Kalashnikovs.
Each side – the Sunni-Salafis and the Shiite-Houthis – accuse the other of inciting sectarian war in Yemen.
“The conflict in Damaj will move nationwide and will extend out of the Arabian Peninsula if no action is taken immediately,” said Yahya Al-Hajoori, a Salafi cleric and principal of Damaj Salafi School, in a statement published on Saturday.