Wed, Mar 25, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Yemen asks for UN action, as fighting leaves 30 dead

AFP, ADEN, Yemen

Anti-Houthi protesters run as pro-Houthi police officers open fire to disperse them in Taiz, Yemen, on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

At least 30 people have been killed in clashes between pro and anti-government forces in central Yemen, tribal sources said yesterday.

The Shiite Houthi militia, backed by troops allied to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, clashed with armed tribesmen in Baida Province late on Monday, the sources said, adding that nine tribesmen and 15 Houthi fighters were killed.

The tribesmen booby-trapped two houses used as bases by Houthi fighters and ambushed several patrols, the sources added.

Meanwhile, clashes raged late on Monday in Marib, east of Sana’a, where tribesmen loyal to Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi confronted advancing Houthi fighters and pro-Saleh troops, tribal sources said.

Six tribesmen, including a tribal chief, were killed in the clashes. The sources said that many Houthi had also been killed.

The advancing forces included units from the former presidential guard, an elite force that Saleh built during his three-decade rule, the sources added.

The gunfights took place as the Houthi, who seized control of Sana’a last year, sent additional reinforcements south, upping pressure on Hadi, who has taken refuge in the southern port city of Aden.

Hadi last month escaped house arrest in Sana’a imposed by the Shiite militia, fleeing to Aden where he retracted an earlier resignation tendered under pressure from the Houthi. He has since tried to cement his position as Yemen’s legitimate president, but faces growing pressure from the Houthi and Yemeni army troops that have remained loyal to Saleh.

Although Saleh resigned in 2012 following nationwide protests, he has continued to enjoy widespread support from the armed forces, and is accused of aiding the Houthi in their advance south from their northern mountain stronghold.

Military sources in south Yemen said that reinforcements from the army’s al-Hamza Brigade — under Saleh’s command — had been mobilized from central Ibb Province to Qatabah, in Daleh, about 120km north of Aden.

Dozens of tanks belonging to the 133rd Brigade, also loyal to Saleh, were sent to Qatabah, military sources and witnesses said.

The reinforcements came as anti-Houthi forces deployed south of the key city of Taez, which lies strategically on the road between Sana’a and Aden.

Meanwhile, demonstrations continued yesterday in Taez against the arrival of pro-Saleh forces and militiamen in the city, after security sources said they seized the airport.

The head of the Taez police denied late on Monday that the airport or other government installations had been taken over.

Also on Monday, the UN Security Council voiced support for Hadi, as Yemeni Ambassador to the UN Jamal Benomar warned that Yemen was facing the prospect of a protracted civil war.

Hadi has asked Gulf countries to intervene militarily against the Houthi, Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Yassin told Saudi media on Monday.

Yassin said Hadi has also asked the UN to impose a no-fly zone so that the Houthi cannot use the airports they seized. He accused the rebels of being a proxy of Shiite Iran, charges they deny.

Yassin spoke to Saudi-owned al-Hadath TV on Monday. He made similar comments to the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Saud al-Faisal said that “if the Houthi coup does not end peacefully, we will take the necessary measures for this crisis to protect the region.”

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