Yemeni planes bomb tribesmen during clash; 3 die

The tribesmen wanted to prevent the soldiers from heading to Sana’a.

Updated: May 27, 2011, 16:37 PM IST

Sana’a: A Yemeni tribal leader says government planes have bombed his fighters during a clash at an Army camp outside the capital, and that three tribesmen have died in the bombing.

Sheik Ali Saif says his tribesmen surrounded the camp of the powerful Republican Guard on Friday in the al-Fardha Nehem area, 50 miles (80 kilometres) northeast of the capital Sana’a.

He says they wanted to prevent the soldiers from heading to Sana’a to join a five-day battle between troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and tribesmen who joined the popular rebellion against the longtime ruler, inspired by Arab uprisings. At least 109 have been killed in that fighting.

Yemeni state TV has warned residents in Sana’a neighbourhood engulfed in the battle to leave their homes in expectations of more street fighting.

Brink of ruin, anarchy

As the situation deteriorated, foreign embassies reduced staff and urged their nationals to leave.

Leaders of the Group of Eight powers meeting in Deauville, France, called on Saleh to quit.

"We deplore the fighting that occurred overnight which was a direct result of the current political impasse, for which President Saleh has direct responsibility due to his refusal to sign the GCC transition agreement," a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The United States, which long treated Saleh as an ally against al Qaeda, also said it now wanted him to go. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said he had "consistently reneged" on agreements to step down.

Tribal leader Ahmar said there was no chance for mediation with Saleh and he called on regional and global powers to force him out before the country of 23 million people plunges into civil war.

"Ali Abdullah Saleh is a liar, liar, liar," said Ahmar. "We are firm. He will leave this country barefoot."

Saleh said on Wednesday he would not bow to international "dictates" to step down and leave Yemen.

Pressure has been mounting since February, when protesters inspired by democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt began camping in squares and marching in their hundreds of thousands to call for Saleh to go. His attempts to stop the protests by force have so far claimed the lives of 260 people.

Bureau Report