x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Thousands turn out to cheer freed mail-bomb suspect

Yemeni students turn out in numbers to help Hanan al Samawi celebrate her release from custody after being suspected of posting two parcel bombs to the United States.

Students surround a car carrying Hanan Mohammed al-Samawi, 22, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a plot to send parcel bombs on US-bound planes.
Students surround a car carrying Hanan Mohammed al-Samawi, 22, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a plot to send parcel bombs on US-bound planes.

SANA'A // Thousands of Yemeni students, many of them singing and tossing roses, helped a fellow student yesterday celebrate her release from custody during an enthusiastic rally at Sana'a University.

Hanan al Samawi, a 22-year-old engineering student who had been arrested on suspicion of mailing two parcel bombs to the United States, returned to a cheering campus.

Police had arrested Ms al Samawi after her mobile phone number was found on a receipt linked to the packages dropped at FedEx and UPS offices in Sana'a. The parcels were found on planes in Dubai and England after an informant tipped intelligence officials in Saudi Arabia. Ms al Samawi was arrested on Saturday and released on Sunday.

Government officials said they determined that another woman had assumed Ms Samawi's identity and police are searching for her.

Ms al Samawi sat next to her father yesterday as he drove through a crowd of students at the campus. Students and teachers hugged the tearful student when she got out of the car.

"I am innocent and there is nothing against me. This is why I have been released," Ms al Samawi told reporters.

"No comment," the veiled student kept repeating. She thanked those who supported her during her arrest.

"Thanks to everyone who had supported me and to my family," she said.

Hundreds of students had protested at the university on Sunday against Ms al Samawi's arrest and demanded that she be released.

Ms al Samawi's father said: "I feel happy about this solidarity from the students."

The students carried banners and chanted slogans demanding the government apologise to the woman and stop arresting people without sufficient evidence.

"We want the facts revealed in the case of Hanan al Samawi," a banner read.

"This is rehabilitation to Hanan, but it is not enough. We demand the government officially apologise for arresting Hanan. They do not have to arrest anybody without a proof," said student Miad al Qulaisi.

Meanwhile, 14 suspected al Qa'eda militants in the province of Abyan surrendered to the local authorities, the defence ministry website reported yesterday.

The website quoted Ahmed al-Maisari, Abyan governor, saying that the surrender comes after negotiations by local authority, community leader, clerics and parents of the suspected militants. Mr al Maisari, who survived an attack by militants in Abyan, expects more militants to surrender soon, the website said.

 

malqadhi@thenational.ae