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Shot dead by a sniper: Child meets same fate as his father

Four-year-old Hashem al-Aizari died while playing outside his home in Taiz, in the same place his father was killed in 2016

Four-year-old Hashem al-Aizari and his four siblings knew it was not safe outside their house.

In 2016, Houthi snipers shot and killed their father, Abdulqawi al-Aizari, a couple of minutes' walk down the street in central Yemen's Taiz city.

Since then the children have been careful not to stray from their home while playing, and run inside whenever the sounds of battles approach.

Those noises have become increasingly common in recent weeks, as the Islahis and Salafis, two groups  loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi's government, clash in the Wadi Al-Madam area of the city where the children live.

On 25 April, during a lull in the fighting raging a few hundred metres from his home, Hashem was in front of his house when a sniper's bullet took his life.

His mother immediately fainted, not regaining consciousness until the next day, while his siblings were in a state of shock, one of them even now unable to stop wailing.

Despite the dangers, some neighbours risked their lives and took Hashem to the city's Al-Rawdha Private Hospital, but the boy had already died.

Hashem died the day before an agreement between the warring Islahis and Salafis, with some of the latter group agreeing to leave Taiz. 


'It is not easy for children to accept such a fact'

Walid Abdul Hamid, a neighbour of Hashem's family, told Middle East Eye: "The battles are threatening all residents in the Old City and surrounding areas, including Wadi Al-Madam, and we cannot leave our houses freely nowadays.

"Hashem is an orphan child, and he left the house when the battles calmed down. He did not know that snipers do not differentiate between fighters and children."

The snipers target civilians in several areas of Taiz and Hashem's father Abdulqawi was killed in the same way and in the same neighbourhood in October, 2016.

Abdul Hamid said: "A sniper killed Hashem's father in 2016 when he was in front of his house and his children have still not forgotten the moments of losing their father.

"Hashem's siblings are suffering from psychological trauma as it is not easy for children to accept such a fact. 

"Those children have already lost their father and now they are losing a brother in the same way, so they are in dire need of help."

Abdul Hamid said that Hashem's mother is still suffering from fainting attacks and cannot believe that now her son is a victim of the battles in the city.

Hashem's siblings no longer feel safe living in the same house, especially with their mother still in hospital, so one of their neighbours has taken them to live in his house until their mother recovers.

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