The Houthis denounce the attack as ‘a criminal act’ by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. Yemen’s Houthi movement announced on Tuesday that Hassan Zaid, its minister of youth and sports affairs, was gunned down in the capital Sanaa by unidentified gunmen.
“The minister of Youth and Sports Mr Hassan Zaid has been martyred after an assassination carried out by criminal elements affiliated to the enemy [Saudi-led coalition],” the ministry of interior said in a statement.
Two sources close to his family told Reuters that Zaid died in the hospital from his wounds after gunmen opened fire on his car in an area of the capital that houses embassies.
According to the interior ministry, Zaid – who was the secretary general of the pro-Houthi Al-Haq Party – was shot in his car on Tuesday morning. His daughter, who was driving the car during the attack, has been seriously wounded, the statement added.
“The assassination of minister Hassan Zaid is a criminal act that comes within the context of planned attacks to target national figures,” it said.
Zaid, 66, was a leading opposition figure during the reign of the toppled regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh.
He joined the Houthi administration in 2014 after his appointment as a minister of state following the movement’s capture of Sanaa, then was later appointed as youth minister for the Houthi-run government.
Last year, a senior Houthi official and brother of the movement’s leader was killed in Sanaa.
The group blamed “treacherous hands” associated with the coalition, while the alliance said his death was caused by infighting.
In 2018, coalition air strikes on Hodeidah on Yemen’s west coast killed the president of the Houthi-backed political body that runs most of northern Yemen.
Yemen has endured years of deadly conflict since the Houthis seized Sanaa in late 2014 and ousted former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power.
Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the country’s civil war in March 2015 to reinstate Hadi, whose internationally recognised government is now based in Aden. The coalition has since carried out more than 20,000 air strikes in an effort to roll back the Houthis, with one-third striking non-military sites, including schools, factories and hospitals, according to the Yemen Data Project.
The protracted conflict has triggered what the UN calls the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, with roughly 24 million people forced to rely on aid while 10 million are on the brink of famine.