Monday, May 30, 2011

DTN News - YEMEN DEFENSE NEWS: Yemeni Air force Bombs al-Qaida-Held City

DTN News - YEMEN DEFENSE NEWS: Yemeni Air force Bombs al-Qaida-Held City
(NSI News Source Info) SANAA/TAIZ, Yemen - May 30, 2011: The Yemeni air force bombed an al-Qaida-held southern city on Monday while residents in another city said soldiers had opened fire on a demonstration and run protesters over with bulldozers, killing at least 15.
There were flashpoints across civil-war-threatened Yemen including six soldiers being killed in what appeared to be an ambush near Zinjibar, a coastal city taken over a few days ago by Islamist and al-Qaida militants.
Residents there said jet fighters later strafed militants with bombs but also hit buildings in the town of about 20,000. At least 13 have been killed in the bombing and artillery shelling, residents said.
"The city is devastated. All of its residents have left. Even the dogs, animals and donkeys have abandoned it," said an opposition member in the city who asked to be named as Ali.
Global powers are worried Yemen, near financial collapse and home to al-Qaida militants, could turn into a failed state sitting along a vital sea lane for global oil supplies and adjacent to Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.
Opposition leaders have accused Saleh of allowing the city of Zinjibar, on the Gulf of Aden, to fall to al-Qaida and Islamist militants in order to raise alarm in the region that would in turn translate into support for the president.
Fears are growing that Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) will exploit such instability, analysts said. The United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of attacks by AQAP, are worried that growing chaos is emboldening the group.
The six soldiers were killed and dozens wounded as they were travelling to Zinjibar, a security official and others said.
"Civilians found a military car and an armoured vehicle. They were destroyed, and the bodies of six soldiers were found on the roadside," Ayman Mohamed Nasser, editor-in-chief of Attariq, Aden's main opposition paper, said by telephone.
Several hundred al-Qaida and Islamist militants took over the city a few days ago and have been battling locals and government soldiers for control.
Zinjibar residents told Reuters that power and water had been cut off and many civilians were fleeing to nearby towns.
A brief calm was shattered on Sunday when forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh opened fire on protesters in Taiz, killing at least 15 people and wounding hundreds, hospital sources said, adding the death toll was almost certain to rise.
"Most of the wounded were hit by live bullets, but some were run over by bulldozers," a medical source said from a field hospital.
Fresh protests are planned on Monday in Taiz, where Saleh's troops have burned tents used by demonstrators and parked armoured vehicles in a protest area known as "Freedom Square".
Security forces arrested dozens on Monday, trying to head off the rally demanding an end to Saleh's nearly 33-year rule.
In Taiz, police on Sunday night fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrators outside a municipal building demanding the release of a fellow protester who was arrested on Saturday.
In the capital Sanaa, about 200 kms (120 miles) north, several explosions were heard on Sunday night in the district of Hasaba, the scene of week-long fighting between Saleh's forces and a rival tribe in which 115 people were killed.
There were no immediate details of the explosions, which may have breached a truce between Saleh's forces and the powerful Hashed tribe led by Sadeq al-Ahmar to stop the bloodiest fighting since unrest erupted in January.
Tribal leader Ahmar condemned what he described as "Saleh's new massacre" of civilians in Taiz. Mobile phone operator Sabafon, whose main owner the Al-Ahmar Group is linked to the tribal clan fighting the president, said separately in a statement it was holding authorities responsible for a cut off of its international mobile, landline and Internet services, Yemeni news websites reported.
French officials said on Monday it was credible that three aid workers who disappeared in Yemen at the weekend had been kidnapped, although it had still not received any claim of responsibility.
In Yemen, a security official told Reuters a vehicle used by the French aid workers had been found in a remote area outside the town of Saywun, near where they disappeared.
About 300 Yemenis have been killed over the past months in demonstrations demanding an end to Saleh's nearly 33-year reign, by protesters inspired by the "Arab Spring" movement which toppled the long-standing rulers of Tunisia and Egypt.
Despite demands by global and regional powers that he step down, Saleh has refused to sign a deal, mediated by Gulf states, to start a transition of power aimed at averting civil war that could shake the region that supplies much of the world's oil.
Yemen is the poorest state on the oil-rich Arabian Peninsula with about 40 per cent of its 23 million people living on less than $2 a day.
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News



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