Friday, May 27, 2011

Yemen on brink of civil war as fighting worsens

Yemeni tribesmen said they wrested a military compound from elite troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh outside the capital Sanaa on Friday as increased fighting threatened to tip the country into civil war.

Yemeni fighter jets could be heard breaking the sound barrier as they swooped over the capital, the scene of fighting between forces loyal to Saleh and the rival Hashed tribe led by Sadeq al-Ahmar, close to the Islamist opposition party Islah.

Tribes outside the capital said they were also fighting government troops at two other military bases.

In Sanaa, tens of thousands of people gathered after Friday prayers for what they said would be a "Friday of Peaceful Revolution" against Saleh, releasing white doves and carrying the coffins of about 30 people killed in clashes this week.

But the turnout for the rally, inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, was less than previous weeks with many people fleeing Sanaa and the government closing roads around the capital to keep out tribes trying to reinforce the Ahmars.

Machinegun fire rattled across Sanaa and sporadic explosions were heard near a protest site where thousands of people demanding Saleh's departure are still camped. (read more)