3 injured in clashes as demilitarizing efforts hampered in Yemeni capital

3 injured in clashes as demilitarizing efforts hampered in Yemeni capital

At least three civilians were wounded Sunday in Yemen's capital of Sanaa when fresh clashes flared between troops loyal to outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the defected army, impeding process of dismantling military positions of the warring forces, medics and witnesses said, Xinhua reported.

"Abdulwahab al-Dhari, Mohamed al-Junaid and Hameed Salim were injured with gunshots during shootout between the Republican Guards and their rival forces," Faiz al-Shaybani, a medic at the protesters' field hospital in Sanaa told Xinhua.

The witness said the clashes took place in Hail neighborhood, a residential area located in the southern part of the anti- government tented encampment dubbed Change Square, where thousands of protesters have been camping since January last year to demand Saleh's ouster.

The gunfire was exchanged between the Republican Guards, elite troops of the government commanded by Saleh's son Ahmed, and dissident soldiers of the pro-opposition First Armored Division led by defected General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, whose forces guard the protesters' camp, said the witnesses.

The clashes were regarded by local observers as a breach to a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal that stipulated the end of military tension between the rival forces.

The witnesses said the shooting also hampered the process of the military committee which was formed earlier last month in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative to remove roadblocks and checkpoints of the rival forces from Sanaa and other cities.

The committee has so far dismantled major military positions of the rival forces in Sanaa and southern restive province of Taiz as its works are continuing.

Reasons behind the fighting, which started in the afternoon and lasted about two hours, were still unclear.

The power transfer initiative was signed by Saleh and the opposition in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 23 to end Yemen's 11-month-long unrest which has left thousands of people dead and brought the impoverished Arab state on the verge of a civil war and economic collapse.

Under the deal, Saleh's deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi will be the consensus candidate for the early presidential elections that are set to be held on Feb. 21, 2012, while the long-time leader retains the title of honorary president for 90 days before his resignation and enjoys immunity from prosecution afterwards.

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