Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Seven killed in Yemen, UN envoy warns of stalemate

Oct 5, 2011

Cairo - At least seven civilians were killed Wednesday in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz, amid warnings from a UN emissary that political efforts to end the country's crisis have become bogged down.

The deaths in Taiz, a focal point of pro-democracy protests against the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, occurred when forces loyal to him heavily shelled residential areas in the city, according to opposition sources.

The deaths included a 14-year-old boy and a local cameraman, reported the pro-opposition website Mareb Press.

At least 50 were also injured in the attack, the fiercest in months against the restive city, said the opposition.

The heavy shelling made it difficult for ambulances to drive away the injured, the website quoted local witnesses as saying.

They said that pro-Saleh snipers fired on pedestrians and motorists while the shelling targeted hospitals.

State television blamed opposition fighters for starting Wednesday's violence and said four government troops were injured.

Taiz is among the cities that have been gripped by nearly nine months of protests demanding an end to Saleh's 33-year rule.

Meanwhile, UN envoy Jamal bin Omar, who ended a mission to Yemen this week, said there was no substantial progress in ending the stalemate in the country.

'President Ali Abdullah Saleh has repeatedly stated he is committed to the Gulf initiative,' bin Omar said Wednesday, referring to a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council for a peaceful power transfer in Yemen.

'But there is no sign of important development for starting a new political process to transfer power,' he told the broadcaster Al Arabiya.

He added that he would report to the United Nations Security Council on his two-week mission to Yemen.

On Tuesday night, anti-government demonstrators thronged the capital, Sana'a, to call for international support for the Yemeni uprising.

They also demanded that Saleh and his family be brought to justice and blamed him for Yemen's instability.

At least 1,480 people have been killed in Yemen since the clashes between security forces and anti-Saleh opponents began in February, according to the government.

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