Over 70 killed in Yemen's capital in intensified clashes between gov't troops, rebels

08:19, May 25, 2011      

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Heavy smoke rises from downtown Sanaa, capital of Yemen, May 24, 2011. At least 49 anti-government armed tribesmen, 1 civilian and 15 government soldiers were killed in intensified clashes on Tuesday in the capital Sanaa as smoke poured out from buildings of the Interior Ministry, officials from both sides said. (Xinhua Photo)

At least 49 anti-government armed tribesmen and 15 government soldiers were killed in intensified clashes on Tuesday in the capital Sanaa as smoke poured out from buildings of the Interior Ministry, officials from both sides said.

They said hundreds from both sides were injured. Yemeni State TV channel also reported that at least one civilian was killed and five others, including a woman and four children were injured in Sanaa on Tuesday.

An official of the Interior Ministry told Xinhua that the armed tribes of the opposition leader Sadeq al-Ahmar, who is the chieftain of the most powerful Hashid tribe, fired mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) against the ministry and a nearby security camp, killing 15 security forces and setting the highest floor of the Interior Ministry on fire and blazing a small building of the security camp.

Al-Ahmar, who backed protests to oust Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hired around 3,000 armed tribesmen from the Houthi- led Shiite rebels stationed in northern province of Saada, according to Houthi sources.

An official of al-Ahmar's office told Xinhua that heavy attacks were launched by government forces against the residential compound of al-Ahmar, leaving at least 49 gunmen dead as RPG and mortar shells igniting fire inside al-Ahmar's compound.

Meanwhile, the official of the Interior Ministry said condition of anonymity that the government forces fired a rocket at al-Ahmar 's compound near the Interior Ministry building.

The official of al-Ahmar's office said the explosion destroyed many parts of the residential compound of Sheikh al-Ahmar.

"The explosion also killed many fighters of al-Ahmar and injured many tribal leaders who were in al-Ahmar's house trying to mediate a ceasefire," the official said.

The two sides have traded fire since midday Monday, he added.

The clashes on Monday killed at least 14 government soldiers and seven armed tribesmen, 61 others have been wounded, according to a security official.

The clashes erupted a day after Saleh refused to sign a Gulf- brokered deal to ease him out of power and end the political standoff.

Source: Xinhua

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