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Five killed as violence rocks Yemeni capital

Arab World Materials 22 October 2011 20:46
At least five dissident soldiers were killed Saturday in renewed clashes between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his opponents in the capital Sana'a, opposition sources said, dpa reported.
Five killed as violence rocks Yemeni capital

At least five dissident soldiers were killed Saturday in renewed clashes between forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his opponents in the capital Sana'a, opposition sources said, dpa reported.

The dead soldiers were from the First Division, led by dissident General Mohssen al-Ahmar, who is siding with anti-Saleh protesters, added the sources.

The clashes erupted early Saturday when the pro-Saleh troops shelled the defecting forces in northern Sana'a, said opposition members.

Large explosions were heard Saturday in northern and central Sana'a, said residents.

Columns of smoke were rising from the northern Sana'a district of Hasaba, following heavy shelling from pro-Saleh troops, according to witnesses.

Hasaba is a stronghold of the influential tribesman Sadeq al-Ahmar, who has recently vowed not to allow the Yemeni president to remain in power.

Saturday's violence turned the northern part of Sana'a into a ghost town, according to residents.

The Yemeni Interior Ministry blamed the violence in Sana'a on pro-opposition militiamen and army defectors.

"They fired mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades on the building of the Interior Ministry and neighbouring residential districts," said the ministry in a statement quoted by the state news agency.

The attack left a number of children and women injured, according to the ministry.

The violence comes hours after the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to call for Yemen to agree to a political transition to end the deadly crisis in the impoverished country.

The council adopted Friday a German-led resolution calling for all Yemeni parties to sign and implement as soon as possible an agreement proposed by the Gulf Cooperation Council for "an inclusive, orderly, and Yemeni-led process of political transition."

It encouraged Saleh, or his authorized representative, to sign the deal and translate it into action "in order to achieve a peaceful political transition of power."

Welcoming the council's condemnation of human rights abuses in Yemen, the rights organization Amnesty International, however, said the resolution fell short.

"The council's resolution ... calls for the signature and implementation of a power-transfer deal on the basis of the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, which appears to shield President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his inner circle from any possibility of being investigated or brought to trial," noted Amnesty on Saturday.

"Such immunity would obstruct justice for hundreds of deaths during months of protest in Yemen, as well as a past string of serious human rights violations, including extra-judicial executions and torture," it added.

Millions of Yemenis have taken to the streets since February, demanding an end to Saleh's 33-year rule.

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