SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 20, 2018

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Taiz

Region & Country:Western Asia | Yemen

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 20, two gunmen reportedly attempted to assassinate Mohammed al-Shuaibi, rector of the University of Taiz, wounding him and killing one of his aides.

Al-Shuaibi and his aide had reportedly left campus together in a vehicle before two gunmen on a motorcycle approached and opened fire.

Immediately following the attack, university officials announced that the campus would be closed temporarily and that security would be heightened. As of this report, there is no public information available regarding the authorities’ investigation into the gunmen.

While it is unclear why al-Shuaibi was targeted, reports indicate that in recent years the southern provinces of Yemen have experienced a pattern of assassinations and attacks by militias and other armed groups targeting activists, political figures, government officials, and Muslim clerics. Several similar attacks were carried out against state military officials the same week as the attempted assassination of al-Shuaibi.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about a targeted, violent attack on university personnel and shares its condolences to the victims and their families. State authorities have a responsibility to ensure the security of higher education communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and institutional autonomy.