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Middle east

Truce fails to end fighting in Yemeni capital

Video by Aude Soufi , Ben Barnier

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-10-25

Yemen’s capital Sanaa was again rocked by explosions and gunfire on Tuesday despite a ceasefire agreement between the government and dissident general Ali Mohsen al-Amar.

REUTERS - Yemen’s government signed a ceasefire with a dissident general on Tuesday to try to end weeks of worsening bloodshed, but sporadic explosions and gunfire could still be heard in the north of the capital.

A government official said the deal between President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government and breakaway General Ali Mohsen would take effect at 3 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Tuesday, but residents of the Hasaba and Sofan neighbourhoods in northern Sanaa said they heard explosions after that time.

State media later said the truce was stabilising and a mediator expressed optimism it would hold.

"In spite of the violations of the ceasefire, the mediation committee is still ... making contacts with all parties to implement the agreement. The issue is not easy but we are still optimistic," the mediator told Reuters.

After months of protests against Saleh’s 33-year rule, a standoff between Saleh and an opposition made up of protesters, tribesmen and renegade soldiers tipped last month into bloody street fighting. Previous truce accords have failed to hold.

Earlier on Tuesday, security forces opened fire on a protest march in the capital Sanaa, killing two people, witnesses said. An opposition source said a third person was killed in shelling by Saleh’s troops in the Sofan district.

In fighting between state forces and opposition fighters in the city of Taiz on Tuesday, eight civilians were killed and more than 30 wounded, an opposition source said. The government said three members of its security forces were killed there.

Under the ceasefire deal mediated by a local committee, both sides agreed to dismantle armed checkpoints across the capital and release all those kidnapped during months of anti-government protests.

For months, Saleh has defied hostile demonstrations inspired by protests across the Arab world and refused to step down in line with a plan brokered by Gulf states. The United States and Saudi Arabia fear the upheaval is giving al Qaeda’s local wing more room to operate in the poorest Arab country.

The truce agreement came four days after a United Nations Security Council resolution condemned violence in Yemen and urged Saleh to sign the Gulf initiative to hand over power. Violence has not abated.

Saleh welcomed the Security Council resolution on Monday. He has backed out of the Gulf initiative at the last minute three times and says he will transfer power only to "safe hands".

A Yemeni military plane crash-landed at an air base in Lahej province in the south, killing nine passengers, eight Syrian engineers and one Yemeni engineer, doctors and army officials said. A security official said a technical fault was probably to blame for the crash of the Russian-made Antonov plane, and the incident would be investigated.

Lahej borders Abyan province, where the Yemeni army is fighting to regain control of territory seized by suspected al Qaeda militants, who have benefited from political upheaval and weak government control over parts of the country.

Late on Monday, an Uzbek doctor was abducted in the northern province and tribal stronghold of Maarib. A tribal source said he had been kidnapped by tribesmen to put pressure on the government to release some jailed comrades.

 

Date created : 2011-10-25

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