Yemen`s elite guards clash with anti-Saleh army faction

witnesses & medics said at least two army men were injured in the clashes.

Last Updated: Mar 24, 2011, 23:02 PM IST

Dubai: Yemen`s elite republican guards
loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Thursday clashed with army
units supporting opposition protesters seeking the resignation
of the embattled leader, amid growing fears of a civil war in
the country.

The clashes between Presidential guards and the army
units who have backed opposition groups and protesters asking
Saleh to quit took place in the eastern Hadramout provincial
town Mukalla today, Al Jazeera channel said.

Abdul Ghani al-Iryani, a political analyst, warned
that that there was growing risk of "civil war" due to such
clashes.

"With the military divided, the risk of confrontation
and escalation is just too great. Right now it`s at a very low
level, and it won`t start an all-out battle, but the risk is
still there," he was quoted as saying by Arab channel.

Reports quoting witnesses and medics said at least two
army men, including a colonel, were injured in the
clashes, the second this week against Saleh who has ruled the
country for the past three decades with an iron fist.

It said it was not clear whether the wounded colonel
was on the government`s side or army units siding with the
protesters.

Two soldiers were killed earlier this week in clashes
between rival groups near a presidential palace in Mukalla.
Al-Iryani described Saleh`s offer to step down at the
end of this year as "too little, too late". "This was on the
table some time ago, and the president rejected it," he said.

"Right now, it is unworkable, because the military is
divided, and the tanks are facing off in the streets and we
cannot afford ... to have this kind of tension that could turn
into civil war at any moment, just to maintain the pride of
one man," he said.

"The people are up against him, half the military is
against him, the international community is against him and he
needs to understand that he has to leave quickly," he said.
According to Al-Iryani Saudi Arabia, the Gulf
Cooperation Council countries and western powers were
currently working to "facilitate some kind of peaceful
transition" of power.

As Yemen plunged close to civil war, the UAE
authorities today seized a massive arms consignment of 16,000
guns bound for the strife torn nation.

The consignment worth USD 4.4 million were bound for
Yemen`s northern province of Saada, a Shia rebels` stronghold,
Dubai Police Chief Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim said.

Six Arabs have been arrested by Dubai Police who
seized the pistols from a warehouse where the shipment was
hidden by the gang, Khalfan announced at a press conference,
the Khaleej Times reported.

PTI