Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yemen calls truce, explosions heard

SANAA/ADEN | Tue Oct 25, 2011

SANAA/ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen's government signed a ceasefire with a dissident general on Tuesday to try to end weeks of escalating bloodshed, but explosions and gunfire could still be heard in the north of the capital.

A government official said the deal between President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government and breakaway General Ali Mohsen would take effect at 3 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, but residents of the Hasaba and Sofan neighbourhoods in Sanaa said they heard explosions after that time.

After months of protests against Saleh's 33-year rule, a standoff between Saleh and an opposition of protesters, tribesmen and renegade soldiers tipped last month into bloody street fighting. Previous truce accords have failed to hold.

Earlier on Tuesday, security forces opened fire on a protest march in the capital Sanaa, killing two people, witnesses said. An opposition source said a third person was killed in shelling by Saleh's troops in the Sofan district.

In separate fighting between state forces and opposition fighters in the city of Taiz on Tuesday, eight civilians, including a child, were killed and more than 30 wounded, an opposition source said. The government said three members of its security forces were killed there.

Under the ceasefire deal mediated by a local committee, both sides agreed to dismantle armed checkpoints set up across the capital and release all those kidnapped during months of anti-government protests.

Saleh has defied months of demonstrations inspired by protests across the Arab world and refused to carry out a plan brokered by neighbouring Gulf states to step down. The United States and Saudi Arabia fear the upheaval is giving al Qaeda's local wing more room to operate in the poorest Arab country.

The truce agreement came four days after a United Nations Security Council resolution condemned violence in Yemen and urged Saleh to sign the Gulf initiative to hand over power. Violence has not abated.

Saleh welcomed the Security Council resolution on Monday. He has backed out of the Gulf initiative at the last minute three times and says he will transfer power only to "safe hands".

A Yemeni military plane crash-landed at an air base in Lahej province in the south, killing nine passengers, including eight Syrian engineers and one Yemeni engineer, according to doctors and army officials. A security official said a technical fault was probably to blame for the crash of the Russian-made Antonov plane, and the incident would be investigated.

Lahej borders Abyan province, where the Yemeni army is fighting to regain control of territory seized by suspected al Qaeda militants, who have benefited from political upheaval and weak central government control over parts of the country.

Late on Monday, an Uzbek doctor was abducted in the northern province and tribal stronghold of Maarib. A tribal source said the doctor had been kidnapped by tribesmen to put pressure on the government to release some jailed comrades.

10 dead after security forces fire on demonstrators, medics say

October 25, 2011

(CNN) -- At least 10 people were killed and dozens injured Tuesday in clashes between Yemeni government security forces in the country's capital and the province of Taiz, medical officials reported.

Two died when security forces opened fire on thousands of anti-government protesters in Sanaa, the medical officials said.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Qubati, a medic at a field hospital there, said "security forces were shooting at protesters immediately after the protests started in Sanaa." Eleven of the injured were in critical condition, he added.

Eyewitnesses in Sanaa said the violence against protesters happened on Qa'a Road, directly behind the Republican Hospital.

The protesters had come together to continue voicing their demand that Yemen's embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, step down.

Meanwhile, medics in Taiz reported at least eight people killed by government forces there.

Yasser Nusari, a medic in Taiz's Freedom Square, said five of the dead were youth protesters.

"Three were shot by the government. Streets are now chaotic and forces are everywhere attacking anyone who is against the regime," said Nusari. "At least 38 people were shot by government forces. It's unbelievable how the government is killing its own people."

Eyewitnesses said security forces bombarded the center of Taiz, as well as the districts of Moshiqi and Al-Rowdah. The witnesses said the government used rocket-propelled grenades and heavy artillery against protesters and pro-revolution fighters.

Clashes erupted between government forces and fighters loyal to the revolution and were still going late Tuesday afternoon.

In Sanaa, Al-Qubati described a horrific scene at his field hospital in Change Square, the epicenter of the anti-government movement.

"The death toll will rise due to the lack of medical equipment we have to help save the injured," the doctor said. "The government is committing a massacre here against unarmed youth."

Abdu Ganadi, the country's deputy minister of information, told CNN that opposition-supported militants are responsible for the violence.

"The opposition are supporting militants who are attacking government property in both Taiz and Sanaa," Ganadi said. "The opposition is seeking to take over the province of Taiz, and the government was only trying to defend the interests of the people."

As for the capital, Ganadi said there are no more protesters.

"These are militants and are all armed. The youth are jut a cover-up for the violence the opposition is creating," he added.

This latest round of violence comes just one day after Saleh made comments welcoming a United Nations Security Council resolution, which calls on him to implement a Gulf Cooperation Council-backed initiative that would see him transfer power.

According to SABA, Yemen's official state news agency, Saleh confirmed Monday the readiness of Yemen's Ruling Party to immediately meet with the country's opposition in order "to complete the dialogue over the operational mechanism for the (Gulf) initiative as soon as possible and to reach the final signing of the initiative and its immediate implementation, which would lead to early presidential elections on a date agreed upon by all."

While Saleh has repeatedly promised to sign the GCC-backed deal, he has not done so.

Friday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned the months of violence in Yemen. But the resolution stopped short of explicitly calling for Saleh's resignation.

The proposed Gulf council-brokered accord, which is backed by the United States and the European Union, would allow Saleh to resign from power in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The Security Council resolution, passed by a 15-0 vote, demands that Yemen allow peaceful demonstrations and end crackdowns on civilians.

Yemen Ceasefire Ends in Two hours

Sana'a, October 25, 2011- A government announced ceasefire came to an end after government forces attacked protesters and opposition positions in Sana’a and Taiz.

Government official in announced this afternoon that a truce had been agreed upon by the Opposition and president Saleh.

Although the ceasefire was meant to take place at 3pm, residents in Taiz said the shelling was still ongoing well passed 4.30pm.

Eyewitnesses said that no real ceasefire took place but the strategy was a tactic by the government to fool the international community and act as if it calls for peace.

Protesters and human rights activists have denounced the new attacks, accusing Saleh of trying to instigate a war while claiming to want to sign the GCC brokered proposal.

"Enough is enough", said a member of the Opposition. "This game of cat and mouse has lasted long enough. Saleh has clearly no intention of surrendering his power and I believe it is time to move towards sanctions."

Several families in Taiz were seen fleeing the war zone to neighboring villages, too terrified at the idea of spending another night in the city.