Bloomberg News

Yemen’s Capital Rocked by Explosions, Shelling Hits Protest Camp

October 17, 2011

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Yemen’s capital was rocked by explosions and gunfire as forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh battled tribal opponents and fired at demonstrators.

Four people died after a protest camp outside Sana’a University was hit by shells, and at least 25 were injured, Mohammed al-Qubati, a coordinator at the field clinic in the capital’s central Taghyeer Square, said by phone today.

Eight supporters of Sadiq al-Ahmar, leader of Yemen’s Hashid tribal confederation, were killed in shelling yesterday and today in the capital, according to an e-mailed statement from al-Ahmar’s office. Twenty supporters were wounded, and the casualty count is expected to rise, his office said.

The army shelled several districts of Sana’a with artillery and mortars, Al Arabiya television said. A civilian was killed in the northern Hasaba neighborhood, al-Qaisi said. Saleh accused the opposition of trying to grab power, and said his government has proof of cooperation between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda to encourage unrest.

Violence in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has escalated since Saleh returned to the country last month after recuperating in Saudia Arabia from injuries sustained during a rocket attack. Demonstrations have been held almost daily since January demanding the removal of Saleh, a U.S. ally who has held power for more than three decades.

GCC Peace Plan

The president says he still backs a Gulf Cooperation Council plan for elections and a handover of power, which he has failed to sign in the five months since it was first proposed.

The six-nation GCC has rejected a request by Saleh to make changes to the proposed peace accord that would allow him to remain in power until 2013, AP said, citing an unidentified Yemeni Foreign Ministry official.

Thousands of women congregated in front of the Foreign Ministry in Sana’a today, calling for the international community to intervene and stop the violence after the death of a woman yesterday in clashes in the southern city of Taiz.

Protesters also clashed with security forces and gunmen loyal to the president in Sana’a yesterday, and at least 14 people died, according to Al Jazeera television.

Fighting in the capital began soon after midnight local time, intensifying around 3 a.m. as explosions shook parts of the capital, the Associated Press said. The blasts halted at dawn with the Muslim call to prayer and resumed shortly after, it said.

The Defense Ministry website reported today that a tribesman loyal to Saleh was killed by Ahmar supporters. Al Arabiya said that a brother of the tribal leader Saghir bin Ali, a Saleh supporter, was among the dead.

--With assistance from Ladane Nasseri in Tehran. Editors: Terry Atlas, Steven Komarow

To contact the reporter on this story: Mohammed Hatem in Dubai at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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