Dozens more die in clashes between pro and anti-Saleh forces in Sanaa

Deadly explosion in Yemen at ammunition store in Sanaa belonging to Sheik Sadiq al-Ahmar (r)
Deadly explosion in Yemen at ammunition store in Sanaa belonging to Sheik Sadiq al-Ahmar (r) Reuters/Khaled Abdullah

An explosion on Thursday at an ammunition store belonging to the Al-Ahmar tribe in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa has killed 28 people. Heavily armed clansmen of the powerful tribal leader have been fighting Republican Guards, security forces and other Saleh loyalists since Monday, after veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh again rejected a Gulf plan over the weekend. 


On Wednesday, tribesmen occupied the offices of the state news agency Saba and the national airline Yemenia. They also tried to storm the interior ministry headquarters.

A tribal source told the French news agency that armed tribesmen from Amran, north of Sanaa are also heading towards the capital, to join the battle against Saleh’s forces.

Tribal loyalties run deep in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, which has an estimated 60 million firearms in private hands, roughly three for every citizen.

Thursday’s blast follows the deaths of 24 people in more fighting overnight between supporters and opponents of the president. Most of the violence took place in the Arhad district north of Yemen’s main airport. At least 12 of the dead were reported to be Republican Guards.

Meanwhile, Washington has ordered all non-emergency staff from its embassy to leave the country. The US Department of State has also urged citizens not to travel to Yemen.

At a joint press conference with British prime minister David Cameron on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama again called on President Saleh “to move immediately on his commitment to transfer power”.

The Yemeni president, who has been in power since 1978, has been resisting massive diplomatic pressure to sign up to proposals by his Gulf neighbours that would see him leave office in return for a promise of immunity from prosecution.

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