Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yemeni tribes take over military bases

Thousands took to the streets in Sana'a on Friday, against the background of fighting between the tribes and  president Saleh's Republican Guard, to stress the unity of the people and the peacefull character of the revolution. 

The fighting in Yemen has spread to outside the capital.Tribes in Nehm, some 50 kilometers northeast of Sana'a on Friday took over bases of the Republican Guard. The Yemen Post reports that the fighting started after the RG attacked a village killing two tribesmen. The governmental forces were forced to evacuate three military position after the clashes. "We fight to defend ourselves and the majority of military positions in Nehm are now under our control," said a tribal leader in the area. Seven republican guards and five tribesmen were killed in the clashes, while more than 30 were injured according to tribal sources. Eyewitnesses said that at least one thousand republican guards fled the area after the tribes took over the military compounds.

Locals in Nehm said that the government lateron attacked the villages with Mig 29 warplanes. Nehm tribal leader Sheikh Saleh Najeed said that the government forces destroyed more than 120 homes in Nehm with the air attacks. Two helicopters landed in villages of Nehm, after their crews refused to attack the tribes and ewent over to the other side. A third helicopter crashed, killing among pothers the commander of the local brigade of the RG. The death toll from Nehm tribes rose to 18, while more than 65 are injured. The tribes confirmed that they have taken 9 tanks from the republican guards.
The tribes in Nehm belong to the confederation of the Bakil tribes, the second in importance in Yemen, so that the two most powerful tribal confederations are now united against president Saleh.

Jane Novack  reported on her blog that a base of the Republican Guard in Dhammar, some 60 kilometsr south of Sana'a,  went over peacefully to the side of the opposition. She also reported that in Sana'a the fighting was renewed in the Hasaba quarter, starting at 2 a.m in the morning, This came after a day of relative calm, with thousands taking part in a march which stressed the peacuful character of the revolution in Yemen. Similar manifestation took place in other cities in Yemen, like Taiz, Hodeida, Dhammar and Ra'ada.

Demonstration in Taiz on Friday

The protesters in Sana'a released white pigeons. The march had also the character of a funeral pocession as the bodies of some 30 people killed in the recent figfhting were carried around. (It is estimated that the total death toll of last days fighting must be about  140). During the demonstration  Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, the leader of the Hashed tribe, appeared on Taghir Square (Change Square) in Sana'a to tell them that again mediation was underway. (Which apparently broke down again in the early morning).
Burned building in Zinjibar
In the meantime there were reports that in the southern governorate of Abyan armed bands took over banks and government buildings in the city of Zinjibar and set fire to prublic buildings and created chaos. Also it was  reported that the airforce bombed the radiostation of the governorate. It is unclear who the arnmed bands are, some say al-Qaeda, others suggest government involvement. 

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