Violence erupts across Yemen

Government forces battle tribes opposed to the president in Sanaa, as country moves closer to the brink of civil war.

Yemen army
Anti-government protests in Yemen are a daily recurrence in the capital Sanaa [Reuters]

Explosions and gunfire have shaken a northern district of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, in one of the worst breaches of a ceasefire between tribesmen opposed to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and troops loyal to him.

Artillery and automatic weapons fire broke out near the home of a prominent anti-Saleh tribal leader in the Hasaba district on Thursday, the site of weeks of fighting that began in May and edged the impoverished Arab state closer to civil war.

Diplomatic sources told the Reuters news agency that mediators from neighbouring Saudi Arabia intervened to help end the street fighting, which was the fiercest in recent weeks.

The clashes, which started just after midnight, stopped later in the morning, with three people killed and five wounded, a local official said.

Most of the victims had been at a marketplace and a nearby building that were heavily damaged in the fighting.

Tribal sources confirmed to Al Jazeera that air strikes, automatic weapons and heavy shillings hit the Arhab tribal area, located 35km north of Sanaa, from early morning up to noon time on Thursday.

Some civilians were injured in the attacks, but no exact figure was provided.

In Taiz, a hotspot of protests about 200km south of the capital, security forces opened fire with live bullets and shot teargas, wounding dozens of protesters demanding the resignation of Saleh, activists said.

Demonstrators have grown increasingly frustrated by their inability to loosen Saleh’s grip on power.

Intense fighting

In the southern city of Aden, two explosions hit the intelligence headquarters and a police base earlier on Thursday, but did not cause much damage, a local security official told Reuters.

One young boy was shot dead when security forces responded with heavy gunfire, the official and witnesses said.

The blasts took place days after Yemen’s army announced it had recaptured Zinjibar, the capital of the neighbouring province of Abyan, where fighters linked to al Qaeda have mounted a rising challenge to government control.

On Thursday, air strikes killed two al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in an area near Zinjibar, a security official said.

Al-Qaeda linked groups began capturing several areas in Abyan in May, but the army launched an offensive two months ago to regain territory.
There have been several attacks on security forces around Aden since the army began to fight the al-Qaeda affiliated groups.

On Wednesday, seven al-Qaeda fighters and one soldier were killed in a suburb of Zinjibar, a military official said. Four more al-Qaeda were killed in another part of the coastal city.

Opponents of Saleh have accused him of exaggerating the al-Qaeda threat as a ploy to scare Washington and Riyadh into backing him.

Saleh, who is recovering in Saudi Arabia from a June assassination attempt, is holding onto power despite international pressure to quit and months of protests against his 33-year rule.

The US and Saudi Arabia fear unrest in Yemen will embolden al Qaeda’s Yemen-based regional wing to launch strikes in the region and beyond.

Source: News Agencies

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