Monday, May 2, 2011

Yemen army vacates south base after tribal attacks


ADEN, May 2, 2011 — Yemen's Republican Guard has abandoned a base in southern Yemen following clashes with tribesmen in which two soldiers and a gunman were killed, military and tribal sources said Monday.

Ten days of fighting in Labus, in Lahij province, escalated on Sunday evening, an officer told AFP, saying that two soldiers were killed and three others were wounded.

"As a result of the intensification of clashes and the support from other tribes to the assailants, we had to withdraw, in order to preserve lives," the officer said, requesting anonymity.

"We took our weapons and left the base," he said.

Sheikh Saleh al-Yafeyi said that tribesmen "took control of Jebel al-Arr base after heavy clashes that lasted over 10 days," adding that one gunman was killed and two others were wounded.

But he said that the tribesmen did not enter the base for fear of mines, claiming also that more than 70 soldiers have been released after surrendering, in keeping with tribal traditions.

Five people, including four soldiers were killed in clashes in the same area last week.

Yemen, a deeply tribal country on the Arabian Peninsula, has been the site of deadly protests since late January calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The protests have led to defections and clashes within the army. But the Republican Guard, headed by Saleh's son Ahmed, has remained loyal.

In addition to anti-regime protests, Yemen has been battling a secessionist movement in the south, a Shiite rebellion in the north, and an Al-Qaeda resurgence on its soil.

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