Saleh forces, tribesmen, clash in Yemen capital

AFP , Thursday 6 Oct 2011

Fresh fighting erupts during the night between government troops and gunmen loyal to opposition tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ahmar in Sanaa's northern Al-Hasaba district, witnesses say

Government troops and gunmen loyal to opposition tribal chief, Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ahmar, traded machinegun and mortar fire for around two hours late on Wednesday, witnesses said.

They said the exchanges were being directed from the tribal chief's home on the one side and the nearby ministry of the interior on the other.

Sheikh Sadiq's office told AFP that, "President Ali Abdullah Saleh's forces fired mortar shells" on his house.

No casualties were reported.

The two sides first clashed in May, after Saleh refused to sign a Gulf-brokered plan under which he would step down in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his family.

Those clashes, that left 300 people dead, came to a halt when Saleh was wounded in a bomb attack on his palace on 3 June after which he was flown to Riyadh for treatment.

In September, fighting between rival army units spread across the capital prompting renewed battles between the tribesmen and government forces in Al-Hasaba.

The situation calmed again when Saleh, still refusing to let go of power he has been holding to since 1978, returned to Yemen on 23 September.

The 69-year-old president is under growing domestic and international pressures to step down, as anti-regime protests in Yemen entered their tenth month.

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