Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Yemeni tribesmen, security forces clash

Anti-government protesters in Yemen demand the immediate departure of President Saleh

Source: Press TV

Armed clashes between the Yemeni security forces and members of the country's powerful Hashid tribe in the capital have left at least two tribesmen dead.

The heavy fighting broke out in the Hassaba district of Sana'a, near the residence of the Hashid tribe leader, Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, on Monday a day after Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign a power transition deal.

Witnesses say machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades were used during the fighting. There were also reports of huge explosions in the northern neighborhood, where a number of ministries are located.

A Yemeni official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that Ahmar loyalists had taken over the trade and industry ministry as well as a religious school and that a Yemeni Airlines office building was set on fire and smoke belched out of a building inside the Interior Ministry compound.

The headquarters of the state news agency, Saba, was also attacked.

According to medical sources, at least 25 people were injured in the trade of fire.

It was not immediately clear what caused the clashes, but some reports suggest that the fighting broke out after security forces tried to set up roadblocks between al-Ahmar's residential compound and the nearby Interior Ministry.

Abdel-Qawi al-Qabasi, an aide to al-Ahmar, however, said security forces were trying to storm al-Ahmar's house and that tribal fighters counterattacked.

Al-Ahmar, who is the leader of the Hashid tribal federation and a former supporter of President Saleh, joined the opposition in March. Saleh himself comes from the Hashid tribe.

Hundreds of Hashid fighters were moving in from outside Sana'a to al-Ahmar's house to protect it, a tribal official speaking on condition of anonymity said.

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