Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New round of fighting takes 38 lives in Sanaa

Smoke above the Hassaba quatrer of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital 

The toll of  another day of fighting in the Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, between  forces of the Hased tribal confederatioon and security forces and supporters of president Ali Abdallah Saleh was 38 dead on Wednesday morning, 24 members of the tribes and 14 of the security forces. It seems that some 20 members of the security forces are missing. 
The renewed fighting broke out on Tuesday after attempts by some influential tribal sheikhs to mediate a ceasifire during the night of Monday to Tuesday failed. According to several sources when the sheikhs were on the telephone with president Saleh. Even when they were talking mortars were fired at the house of sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, were many sheikhs were gathered for the mediation effort. The attack was a clear violation of tribal customs which demand that during mediation a cease fire is maintained and were therefor broken off. It was a repetition of the night before, when also the house of Al-Ahmar was attacked during a mediation attempt. 
The fighting on Tuesday was heavier tha the day before when it was most automatic weapons that were used with sporadic use of heavier weapons. On Tuesdaqy both sdes used also artillerie, mortars and rockets. According to Mareb Press the forces of Al-Ahmar took possession of at least five ministries, among them the Education ministry and the ministry of the Interior. The day before the building of Yemenia, the aerial company of Yemen went up in flames and had to be evacuated, while also the Yemeni newsagency Sana was targeted. The Hassaba quater of the city was transformed into a 'no go zone' where only ambulances entered from time to time. Many tribal people entered the city to reinforce the rangs of the Haseb tribe, before the arnmy blocked all the roads. There were frequent power cuts, some quarters of had only electricity during a limited number of hours.      
From several sides fears were voiced that the student protesters at the university or the 1st army division of general Ali Mohsen, who has taken sides with the opposition, might be the next to be attacked. That has not happened yet. And as long as the army and Ali Mohsen's forces don't participate in the clashes it is not a full blown civil war yet. But the dangers are huge.Sheikh Hassan Ghalib Alajda, one of the sheikhs involved in the mediation efforts, said that it was president Ali Abdallah Saleh who wrecked the attempts. In an interview with Al-Arabiya televison he said that Saleh 'will plunge the country into a civil war like he has threatened many times'.

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