Key tribes abandon Yemen president

Leaders of two most important tribes abandoned Prez Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2011, 18:57 PM IST

Sanaa: Pressure on Ali Abdullah Saleh to
resign on Saturday intensified when the leaders of two of Yemen`s
most important tribes abandoned the president and joined the
anti-regime movement.

The news came as an official denied reports that
police killed four people yesterday in an assault on an
anti-government protest in Aden, blaming a southern
secessionist group for the attack.
Powerful tribal leaders, including those of the Hashid
and Baqil, pledged to join protests against Saleh at a
gathering north of the capital, a tribal source said.

"I have announced my resignation from the General
People`s Congress in protest at the repression of peaceful
demonstrators in Sanaa, Taez and Aden," Hashid tribal chief
Sheikh Hussein bin Abdullah al-Ahmar was quoted as saying, in
reference to the ruling party.
The Hashids are considered Yemen`s most powerful
tribal confederation and include nine clans, among them the
Sanhan, long a bulwark of Saleh`s regime.

The announcement was warmly received by a large crowd
of tribesmen, including members of Yemen`s second largest
tribe, the Baqil, who gathered for the meeting, according to
the tribal source.

The two tribes announced they would support the
popular uprising against Saleh, who has refused to step down
after three decades in power, to chants of "the people want
the fall of the regime!"

According to tally based on reports by medics
and witnesses, at least 19 people have now been killed in
almost daily clashes at anti-regime protests since they
erupted on February 16.

Medics said security forces used live ammunition on a
demonstration in the southern city of Aden, which has seen the
worst violence, bringing the death toll to four on Saturday
from just one rally with 40 others wounded.

They identified three of the dead as demonstrator
Mohammed Ahmed Saleh, 17; Hael Walid, 21, and Salem Bashaj, an
employee at the state electricity company who was shot outside
his home.

A hospital official in Aden confirmed that a
fourth protester had died of wounds sustained in the gunfire.

A Yemeni official denied today reports of a police
raid.

"An armed separatist group loyal to the so-called
Hirak (Southern Movement) randomly opened fire with automatic
weaponry on buildings in the district of Maalla, targeting
security forces and citizens," the defence ministry`s
26sep.net website quoted the security official as saying.

Bureau Report