Yemen Capital Rocked by Explosions

By Alan Bjerga and Mohammed Hatem – Oct 17, 2011

Yemen’s capital Sana’a was rocked by explosions and gunfire as troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh battled tribal forces after the country’s leader said his opponents are carrying out a coup.

Saleh described the opposition as “insane people, who can’t sleep and only want to take power,” saying that will only happen through elections, he told SABA, Yemen’s state-run news agency. “We have strong proofs of the cooperation between Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda” to encourage unrest, he said.

Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces and armed gunmen loyal to the president, leaving at least 14 people dead yesterday, according to Al Jazeera television. Saleh returned to Yemen on Sept. 23 after three months in Saudi Arabia, where he received medical treatment following a rocket attack on his compound in the capital.

Demonstrations began in the Arab world’s poorest country at the end of January, inspired by revolts that ousted the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and sent Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi on the run. They deepened as military and tribal leaders joined the opposition. Efforts by the Gulf Cooperation Council to broker a power-transfer agreement have failed.

The Yemeni army clashed yesterday with the breakaway 1st Armored Division, loyal to the tribal leader Sadiq Al-Ahmar. Al Arabiya reported. Army forces shelled several districts in Sana’a with artillery and mortars, the channel said.
Shell Hits Clinic

Three people were killed when a mortar shell landed in a field clinic at Change Square in Sana’a and the Yemeni state TV building was also hit. A brother of the tribal leader Saghir bin Ali, loyal to Saleh, was among the dead, according to the Arabiya report.

In Cairo, the Arab League held an emergency meeting to discuss violence in Syria, where security forces carried out raids and made arrests yesterday as the foreign ministers met.

The Arab League formed a committee to look into what it called the “catastrophic and the sad situation in Syria,” the league said yesterday. The committee’s mission “is to contact the Syrian leadership to stop the violence and to start a dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition,” the statement said. It said the dialogue should start within 15 days.
Syrian Response

Syria’s government responded on state television that “it’s capable of administering its affairs and security by itself.”

Ahead of the emergency meeting, a group of foreign ministers headed by Qatar’s representative debated ways in which to pressure the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into ending its deadly crackdown against protesters, Egypt’s state- run Middle East News Agency said.

“No doubt this is one of the most serious crises we face right now,” Nabil El-Arabi, Arab League secretary-general, said during a portion of the meeting broadcast on Egyptian television. “We can’t keep silent about the violence and the killings in Syria.”

Protests demanding the ouster of Assad started in March. Assad has blamed the demonstrations in Syria on foreign-backed extremists.
Syrian Civilians

At least 4,000 Syrian civilians have been killed by security forces, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. The United Nations published a lower death toll on Oct. 14 of more than 3,000, including at least 187 children.

In Libya, fighters searched neighborhoods in Tripoli yesterday for armed supporters of Qaddafi after an Oct. 14 battle between his loyalists and opponents in the capital.

The eight-month conflict interrupted oil production in Libya, which has the largest crude reserves of any African nation. National Oil Corp.’s Chairman Nuri Berruien said Oct. 15 that Libya’s Sharara field, which is operated by Repsol YPF SA, is scheduled to start producing between 80,000 and 100,000 barrels a day of crude before the end of the month.

The North African country is currently producing 400,000 barrels a day of oil and is expected to meet its daily production goal of 500,000 barrels by the end of the month, Berruien said

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