Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Yemen: Hashid tribe clashes with security forces

Yemeni officials have said that three people have been killed and 25 injured during violent clashes between security forces and members of the country's powerful Hashid tribe in Sana'a.

The clashes occurred in the capital's northern region, near the home of tribal leader Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ahmar. Former supporter of President Abdullah Saleh, Sheikh Ahmar joined protests against his rule in March. The fighting, which reportedly lasted over six hours, also involved machine-guns, grenades and tanks.

The Associated Press news agency reported that security forces and tribesmen traded fire with guns and rocket propelled grenades outside the country's interior ministry. Some witnesses reported that Yemeni Airlines offices were set on fire.

According to Yemeni officials, two tribal fighters were killed, as well as one civilian, and 25 others wounded. A spokesman for Sheikh Ahmar said the security forces attempted to raid the Hashid leader's residence and were subsequently fought-off by the tribesmen.

The violence, most ferocious since the popular uprising began, comes several days after Saleh's refusal to sign a Gulf-brokered transition deal for the third time. As a result, the Gulf Co-operation Council suspended the initiative citing "a lack of suitable conditions".

The EU voiced its concern over Saleh's "repeated failure" to keep his promise, while US President Barack Obama said: "President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.''

The deal, which would have allowed Saleh to step-down in exchange for immunity from prosecution, was reportedly rebuffed by the president because of immense international pressure. France called Saleh's move "irresponsible".

Sources: BBC News, The Associated Press, AFP

For more news and expert analysis about Yemen, please see Yemen Focus.

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