Sanaa: Tribesmen fighting Yemeni troops
loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh shot down on Wednesday an Army
fighter jet, as a sea of protesters demanded the under-fire
leader`s ouster and trial.
A Sukhoi SU-22 "fell during a regular mission" and
opposition leaders were "responsible for the incident," said a
military spokesman quoted by Saba state news agency.
Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated near Sanaa`s
Change Square, the focal point of anti-regime protests in the
violence-wracked Arabian Peninsula country, a news agency
"We shall not rest until the butcher is executed," the
demonstrators chanted as they marched in a neighbourhood of
the capital controlled by dissident General Ali Muhsen
al-Ahmar`s First Armoured Division.
Security forces loyal to Saleh blocked the road leading
to government offices beyond Qiyadah roundabout, forcing the
protest to stay within the area controlled by the defected
Demonstrations also took place in the cities of Taez,
Hudayda and Ibb, but all ended peacefully, witnesses said.
The fighter jet was downed by anti-aircraft guns near
Arhab, 40 kilometres (26 miles) north of Sanaa, where armed
tribesmen have been locked in combat with the elite Republican
Guard, led by Saleh`s son Ahmed, witnesses said.
"We saw the downed plane in flames on the ground," one
Tribesmen captured the pilot after he ejected when the
plane crashed in the village of Beit Azar, tribal sources
The tribal area of Arhab has been targeted by heavy air
strikes since a general and six other soldiers were killed
Sunday in clashes between tribesmen and the Republican Guard.
General Abdullah al-Kulaibi, head of the 63rd brigade of
the elite Republican Guard unit, died in the attack by
tribesman opposed to Saleh`s rule in the strategic town of
Nihm, the defence ministry said.
Four of the attackers were killed during the assault on
the military base, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the
Yemeni capital, it said.
Tribal sources claimed on Monday that 33 troops were
captured in the confrontation.
Meanwhile, three more gunmen were killed in overnight
clashes with the guard, tribal sources said.
Nihm is one of several villages and towns that
collectively make up the strategic northern gateway into Sanaa
and is site of at least five Republican Guard bases.
The elite unit has so far prevented dissident General Ali
Mohsen al-Ahmar, who now controls part of the capital, from
calling in reinforcements from Yemen`s northern provinces
where parts of his division are deployed.