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Fresh clashes in Yemeni capital break newly-born ceasefire

(Xinhua)

08:55, October 26, 2011

SANAA, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- At least two citizens were killed Tuesday when fresh clashes erupted between Yemeni government forces and armed tribesmen of opposition tribal leader Sadiq al- Ahmar in the capital of Sanaa, an official of the Interior Ministry said, hours after fragile ceasefire was declared.

"Two citizens were killed by shrapnel, six other civilians, including a seven-year-old child, as well as seven government security soldiers were wounded during the fresh exchange between government forces and the opposition tribal rebels in Hassaba district," the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"The rebels fired shell round towards the area of the headquarters of the Interior Ministry first, setting the nearby government-owned building of the Upper House of Parliament (Shura Council) on fire," the official said, accusing Sadiq al-Ahmar of breaching the three-hour-old ceasefire.

Residents in Hassaba said they heard a string of huge explosions shocking the area, which were followed by heavy gunfire.

A series of fragile truces have been broken since sporadic clashes erupted in May following Saleh's refusal to sign a Gulf- brokered initiative for power transfer.

Elsewhere in Kintaki area in Sanaa, witnesses said they heard a series of bomb blasts and heavy shooting near Kintaki intersection and in the southern part of the protesters' Change Square.

"Three mortar shells were fired from al-Qaa area, the location of the government security forces in the west residential part of Kintaki intersection, and landed in the southern part of Change Square, where soldiers of the defected army station in checkpoints to protect the protest camp," one of the eyewitnesses told Xinhua.

"Another four shells hit Kintaki intersection and the residential area of Hail, following by heavy gunfire towards the dissident soldiers in the checkpoints," he said.

The witnesses said that the defected soldiers did not fire back.

Earlier the day, the government said it signed a ceasefire deal with the dissident army and opposition rebels to end battles in Sanaa, according to the Defense Ministry.

It said the ceasefire, which was mediated by a committee assigned by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his deputy Abd- Rabbu Mansour Hadi, will take effect as of Tuesday afternoon.

The deal stipulated all rival forces be removed from the streets and residential areas of Sanaa.

Yemen has been in the grip of nine months of protests demanding an end to the 33-year rule of Saleh. The president on Monday welcomed the United Nations Security Council resolution adopted last weekend that urged him to halt using violence on protesters and cede power peacefully based on a Gulf Cooperation Council initiative.

Since late January, when anti-Saleh protest movement erupted, Sanaa and nearly all other provinces have been hit with hours-long daily blackouts, shortages of fuel and foodstuff.

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