24 killed in Yemen as civil war looms

Updated: 2011-06-01 06:16


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SANAA - At least 24 people, including 16 tribesmen, four soldiers and four civilians, were killed and scores of others injured on Tuesday in the fierce battles in Yemen's capital between government forces and armed tribesmen loyal to the opposition tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar, officials from both sides said.

An opposition official from the powerful Hashid tribes confederation said that "16 of al-Ahmar's fighters were killed."

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The official, who asked not to be named, said seven of the 16 tribesmen died of wounds in Technology and Science University Hospital earlier the day after a missile hit the house of al-Ahmar in Hassaba district in downtown Sanaa.

"Also two of the 16 were succumbed to wounds after they were rushed to a makeshift hospital in a sit-in square outside Sanaa University belonging to anti-government protesters," the official said.

While the rest, according to the official, were killed Tuesday afternoon when a tank shelled a hideout of tribesmen stationed at the top of a seven-floor building located west of a military camp loyal to President Saleh.

A security official said that "the death toll among al-Ahmar's fighters was expected to be very high, because they were heavily shelled overnight as government forces almost closed all Hassaba area and roads surrounding al-Ahmar's house and his fighters' hideouts."

"In Dhahban area, nearby the state television, security forces shelled a building of Shiesh Aiyeedh Hussein, who is loyal to Sadiq al-Ahmar and involved in opening fire on the military camp in the area," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"The government forces were also shelling many hideouts of al- Ahmar's fighters in the capital Sanaa, including Tunisia Street in west the capital Sanaa, in Marib crossroads in eastern Sanaa and the main stronghold compound of al-Ahmar in Hassaba district," he added.

Meanwhile, a military officer said that at least four soldiers were killed in separate street battles in Sanaa on Tuesday.  

Among them, two were rushed to the Military Hospital and the rest pair were killed when al-Ahmar's fighters stormed Hassaba Police station and took over it on Tuesday morning.

An army doctor added that about ten policemen were injured while they were trying to defend the police station.

The doctor also said that four civilians were also killed and up to 15 residents were injured when their homes came under random shelling by the armed tribesmen.

Pitched street battles have intensified since Monday night, the escalating step made the rivals to announce the breaking down of the ceasefire, which was reached last Saturday.

Besides the worse situation which was about to push the impoverished Arab country into civil war, Saleh's cash-strapped government also launched air and grounds raids on militants of al- Qaida wing since Saturday after the latter seized southern coastal province of Abyan, some 480 km south of Sanaa.


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