Intense fighting continues in Yemen, 38 people killed

The residence of powerful dissident tribal chief Sadiq al-Ahmar was hit by a missile.

Sanaa: Thirty-eight people were killed in ongoing clashes between armed clansmen and government forces in a northern district of the Yemen capital Sanaa, according to a new toll from medical and government sources on Wednesday.

Three tribal dignitaries were among 24 supporters of powerful dissident tribal chief Sadiq al-Ahmar who were killed, and dozens of others were wounded, a hospital source said.

The defence ministry said on its website, citing the interior ministry, that 14 soldiers were killed and two were missing in the fighting.

An earlier toll said at least six were dead Tuesday in a second day of fighting between supporters of Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar and forces loyal to embattled President Abdullah Saleh.

The fighting with weapons of all calibers was concentrated around the residence of Sheikh Sadiq, held by backers of the dignitary who went over to the opposition, and the interior ministry buildings.

Shortly after midnight Wednesday the crackling of automatic arms fire could still be heard ringing out throughout the neighbourhood, residents said, hunkered down at home.

Earlier, Yemen`s wealthy Gulf neighbours on Tuesday demanded an immediate halt to the bloody clashes between regime supporters and Sadiq`s clansmen.

"The fighting in Sanaa during the last two days is a source of concern for the GCC who fear that it may spread," said Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Zayani, who has been promoting a plan which he brokered that would see President Saleh leave office within 30 days, urged the rival camps to show restraint.

Two days of clashes in the capital between backers of Sadiq and security forces had already killed at least 12 people, tribal sources said.

Hours after their comments a missile slammed into Sheikh Sadiq`s Sanaa home causing casualties, another tribal source said.

"The home of Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar was hit by a missile and there were several dead or wounded," the source said.

"Among the wounded was General Ghaleb Gamash, who was leading a mediation mission."

Sheikh Sadiq, who heads the Hashid tribal confederation, the largest in Yemen and a former crucial source of support for the embattled president, pledged his support for the opposition in March.

He accused Saleh, who is facing mounting pressure to quit office after 33 years, of trying to spark a "civil war" in an attempt to remain in power.

Machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire gripped the Al-Hasaba neighbourhood of north Sanaa where the sheikh`s home is located, an AFP correspondent said.

Heavy shelling also targeted tribesmen stationed at several government buildings including the trade and industry ministry, a tribal source close to the sheikh said.

Heavy gunfire was heard near the rebel chief`s home where dignitaries from the powerful Bakil and Hashid tribal confederations had gathered in his support.

Most of the dignitaries had insisted on a peaceful solution to end the violence that killed six people Monday, although tribal mediators have so far failed to secure a ceasefire.


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