New York, July 27, 2018--Yemeni authorities should credibly investigate the attack on Mazen al-Shaabi, a reporter for United Arab Emirates-funded Sharjah TV, and ensure that journalists operating in areas under their control can work freely and safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Al-Shaabi was attacked by unknown assailants the evening of July 23 while driving home to Aden, according to al-Shaabi, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate, and local news reports.
Al-Shaabi told CPJ that he was driving to his home in Aden's Inma neighborhood and noticed that a car was following him. When he reached an unlit portion of the road the car tried to overtake him, and al-Shaabi said that he heard gunfire followed by the sound of bullets striking the side of his car. Al-Shaabi said that when he sped up to get away from the assailant, he lost control of his vehicle and it overturned at which time the assailants drove away from the scene.
Al-Shaabi told CPJ that he was "lightly injured" when he hit his head on the car's windshield and also suffered a "mild injury" to his left foot.
"The brazen attack on Mazen al-Shaabi highlights the dangers journalists in Yemen face, no matter where they are working or for whom," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington, D.C. "Authorities in Aden should thoroughly investigate the attack on al-Shaabi and ensure the safety of journalists working in areas under their control."
The journalist reported the attack to authorities who told him that they are investigating.
Yemen's Interior Ministry did not reply immediately to CPJ's request for comment sent via their website.
Al-Shaabi had not previously received threats; however, four months ago unknown assailants shot out the window of his car. The journalist said he was not in the car at the time.
Al-Shaabi said that he started working for Sharjah TV this year and covers the UAE's humanitarian role in Yemen's ongoing civil war as well as the latest political and civil developments in the conflict.
Yemen is currently embroiled in a civil war between the internationally recognized government based in Aden and the Ansar Allah movement, known as the Houthis, which controls the country's north and west and the capital Sanaa, according to news reports cited by think tanks. The UAE is part of the coalition fighting alongside the government to retake control of the country, though it has also backed forces that are in conflict with the government in Aden, according to the same sources.
The journalist previously worked for five years at the privately owned Yemeni TV channel Saeeda, which broadcasts from Cairo, and for half a year at the Emirati-based Akhbar Al-An TV, as well as for two years with state-run Kuwait state TV.
At least two journalists have been killed this year in Yemen, according to CPJ research. Several other attacks against journalists have been documented in areas of Yemen under the control of the government, while the Houthis have abducted several current and former journalists.