Thursday, June 2, 2011

Yemen: Forces clash with tribal fighters near Sanaa as tribesmen "march on capital"

About 100 armed fighters loyal to a tribal leader in Yemen have clashed with security forces on the northern outskirts of the capital, Sanaa.

Tribal leaders say hundreds more are marching towards the city in support of their leader, Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar.

Flights at Sanaa airport were disrupted due to the fighting, but officials say operations have returned to normal.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh is refusing to step down despite months of opposition against his 33-year rule.

While the protests have been largely peaceful so far, the recent fighting between tribesmen and government forces threatens to drag Yemen into civil war, analysts say.

Fresh battles have erupted between supporters of Sheikh Ahmar, who leads the powerful Hashid tribal federation, and government forces in Sanaa's northern Hassaba neighbourhood.

Resident Talal Hazza told AFP news agency that government troops were shelling opposition forces for a second day running. (read more)