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People's Daily Online>>World >> Middle East

Yemen's air force base shelled by opposition tribesmen, 2 fighter jets ablaze

(Xinhua)

08:31, October 31, 2011

SANAA, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Air Force base in the Yemeni capital Sanaa was hit by mortar shells on Sunday evening and two fighter jets were set on fire, the Yemeni Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, military officials said the Air Force base was stricken by two mortar shells and the nearby airport was shut down, but no one was killed or injured.

Witnesses near the military base said that they saw big fire and smoke inside Al-Dailami Air Force Base after a series of loud explosions in northern Sanaa.

"One of the shells exploded near a small weapon depot, causing further explosions and fire, but there were no casualties, while the nearby civil airport (Sanaa International Airport) was undamaged," a military official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

However, another military official at the base said "Sanaa International Airport and the base were shelled and there were no major structural damages."

"The shells were fired by opposition armed tribesmen, and security forces are searching for suspects around the base and Sanaa airport," he told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"The civil airport was shut down and the coming flights were diverted to southern Aden airport," he added.

Meanwhile, soldiers at the military base said a security investigation team have defused 10 explosive devices planted inside 10 fighter jets, blaming the defected army of the First Armored Division.

An official at the Interior Ministry said security at the two military airports was beefed up.

"The departure travelers were allowed now to get onboard planes, " he said.

"The shells were possibly fired either from Arhab district outside the capital or from Hassaba area in downtown Sanaa," he added.

Arhab and Hassaba are the scenes of almost daily clashes since May between the government troops and pro-opposition armed tribesmen led by the powerful opposition tribal leader Sadiq al- Ahmar and backed by troops of defected General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has confronted nine-month-long protests across the country calling for an end to his 33-year rule.

The government and the opposition coalition are reportedly considering a compromise based on a resolution of United Nations Security Council and a power transition deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council.

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