At least 28 killed in weapon storage explosion in Yemen's capital

08:32, May 27, 2011      

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At least 28 tribal militants were killed in an explosion at a weapon storage during overnight battles in Yemen's capital Sanaa as President Ali Abdullah Saleh orders the arrest of the opposition tribal leader over gun battle, the country's defense ministry said Thursday.

The Defense Ministry's on-line website said that at least 28 tribesmen guarding an arms storage who belong to dissident tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar and his brothers, were killed in an explosion overnight in the southern area of the dissident first Armored Division in Hassaba district.

The ministry said the "arms storage contained a large quantity of small and heavy weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades ( RPGs) and different kinds of missiles and shells, which were used in attacking residents and occupying government buildings."

The ministry also said the government forces destroyed the opposition satellite TV station Suhail in Hassaba district in downtown Sanaa, which was owned by one of al-Ahmar brothers named Hamid al-Ahmar, who is also a prominent figure in the opposition Islamic Islah Party.

However, residents and eyewitness said the shells destroyed two nearby houses while no shell hit the headquarters of the opposition TV station.

Non-stop clashes continued Thursday to rock Hassaba area. An opposition official told Xinhua that at least 79 of al-Ahmar's fighters were killed during the overnight clashes, warning of more fierce clashes by al-Ahmar's fighters against government forces.

Meanwhile, the ministry said Thursday that President Saleh has ordered the arrest of Sadiq al-Ahmar, who is the chieftain of the powerful tribal coalition Hashed, which President Saleh is a member of this tribal coalition.

The arrest warrant also issued against al-Ahmar's nine brothers, according to the ministry.

"The President has ordered the public prosecution to bring dissident Sadiq al-Ahmar and his brothers to justice on charges of treason and involving in armed rebellion against the state," the ministry said on its website

Thursday marked the fourth consecutive day of street battles between al-Ahmar's armed guards and government forces.

The street war following President Saleh's refusal to sign a Gulf-brokered deal as its third time, which local observers considered as the beginning of civil war, erupted on Monday after the tribal forces stormed and occupied several government buildings and ministries.

The four-day-old battles have left hundreds of people dead.

The capital's residents have been departing in large numbers for remote countryside in other provinces due to the intensification of random bombings.

Source: Xinhua
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