Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Yemen opposition blames regime for killings

By Wissam Keyrouz (AFP)
Dec 6, 2011
SANAA — A civilian was killed when a shell hit a bus in Yemen's second city of Taez where fighting has cost more than 30 lives since last week, medics said, as the opposition blamed the regime for the violence.
The bus was heading towards the restive northern Al-Hasab district of the flashpoint city late on Monday when it was hit by an artillery round fired by troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the sources said.
"One passenger was killed while several others were wounded," a medic said.
After a lull in the fighting on Sunday, clashes between armed tribesmen and Saleh's forces erupted in Taez late on Monday.
Earlier the same day, two women were killed and six people were wounded when Saleh's forces fired on a crowd of anti-regime protesters in the city.
The latest deaths brought to 34 the number of people killed in Taez since Thursday.
Brief overnight clashes between tribesmen loyal to dissident tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar and Saleh's troops also shook Sanaa's northern Al-Hasaba district, but no casualties were reported.
Both Sanaa and Taez were quiet later on Tuesday, residents said.
Hundreds of people have been killed nationwide since an uprising began against Saleh's 33-year-long rule in late January.
On November 23, Saleh signed a Gulf-brokered and UN-backed transfer deal to transfer power to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in return for immunity from prosecution.
Opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan accused "Saleh and his sons" of orchestrating the violence in Taez.
Saleh's son Ahmed commands the elite Republican Guards, who have been repeatedly locked in deadly confrontations with dissidents.
Opposition sources have said the ambassadors of several Gulf and Western countries in Sanaa, monitoring the implementation of the Gulf deal, have asked to visit Taez.
Monday's killings came a day after Hadi formed a military commission under the Gulf Cooperation Council agreement to oversee the restructuring of the security forces, many of which are controlled by Saleh's relatives.
The official Saba news agency said the 14-member commission would also oversee the withdrawal of gunmen from the streets.
Meanwhile, Saba said on Tuesday that 110 officers and soldiers from the First Armoured Brigade led by dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar had been arrested.
Led by General Sadiq Ali Sarhan, the soldiers were sent to Taez to "implement a terrorist plan by (the Islamist) Al-Islah (reform) party and its civilians and army branches and arms... to occupy the city and cause trouble," it said.
The statement accused General Ahmar, whose troops protect protesters in Sanaa, of plotting to seize control of "Yemeni cities one after the other and carry out assassinations" in Taez.
A ceasefire was reported on Saturday in Taez between pro-Saleh troops and armed tribesmen who have thrown their support behind the mass protest movement.
The developments came as prime minister-designate Mohammed Basindawa was expected to announce a national unity government within two days, a European diplomat and a Yemeni official said on Sunday.
"There are no problems regarding the government. It will be formed today or tomorrow," Qahtan said on Tuesday.
"Both sides have agreed not to propose provocative names to take part in the government," said Qahtan, adding that he himself was "a provocative name."
Under the Gulf initiative, half of the government must be opposition members, with regime loyalists making up the other half.

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