Deadly violence hits Yemeni capital after UN resolution

Deadly violence hits Yemeni capital after UN resolution

At least nine people were reportedly killed Saturday in clashes between troops loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and opposition forces in the capital Sana'a, hours after the United Nations called for the embattled president to step down.

Five soldiers from the dissident First Division, led by General Ali Mohssen al-Ahmar, were killed when their positions were attacked by government troops in northern Sana'a, according to opposition sources, dpa reported.

Four civilians were also killed in the heavy shelling, added the sources.

Clashes, meanwhile, erupted between the defecting forces and the army troops near Change Square in central Sana'a, where hundreds of anti-Saleh protesters are camping.

The dissident forces claimed Saturday they had intercepted a phone call from Saleh to his son Ahmed, who commands the elite Republican Guards, ordering the son to destroy the holdouts of Saleh's opponents in Sana'a.

"Strike them with all types of weapons. ... Destroy anyone who will stand in your way," they quoted Saleh as allegedly saying.

There was no official comment on the claims.

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 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 came shortly after the UN 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 (GCC) 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."

The GCC countries, which brokered the deal, pledged Saturday to continue efforts to help Yemen overcome its crisis and support the Yemenis to "achieve their aspirations."

"Bloodshed and acts of violence and killing should be stopped immediately," GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani said in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Under the proposal, Saleh would be guaranteed immunity from legal prosecution and remain head of the ruling party. It also commits him to transfer power to his deputy within 30 days of signing it. Presidential elections would then take place after 60 days.

Welcoming the Security 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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