News / Middle East

Yemen's Tribal Forces Seize Presidential Guard Base

A grab taken from Yemen's state television station shows Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh addressing the nation from Sanaa as government troops opened fire on protesters calling for Saleh to be tried for crimes against Yemenis, September 25, 2011.
A grab taken from Yemen's state television station shows Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh addressing the nation from Sanaa as government troops opened fire on protesters calling for Saleh to be tried for crimes against Yemenis, September 25, 2011.

Forces loyal to a Yemeni tribal leader have captured a presidential guard base north of the capital Sana'a, as forces loyal to President Ali Abdallah Saleh appear to be suffering a slow erosion.

Tribal fighters opposed to Saleh fought units of the pro-government Republican Guard on Monday, capturing a base north of Sana'a and clashing with guard units at several other locations.

The Yemeni Defense Ministry website reported that a guard general was killed in the fighting, along with a number of guardsmen and tribal assailants. More than several dozen guardsmen reportedly were captured when their base was taken by tribal forces.

Pan-Arab television channels say that Yemeni government warplanes attacked the tribal fighters at several locations in an attempt to push them back.

Determined tribal fighters

Hakim Almasmari, editor of the Yemen Post newspaper, said the tribal fighters are determined to topple Saleh.

"It's a major blow for President Saleh because it's a very strategic location for the Guards, and the tribes were able to kill a commander and take 10 tanks and artillery from the military," said Almasmari. "It's a very strong message that these tribes who are [lightly] armed are fierce and ready to fight the Saleh regime."

Large crowds turned out across the country Monday both to protest against Saleh and to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the 1962 revolution that overthrew the country's last hereditary ruler, Imam Badr.

Thousands of anti-government protesters in the provincial capital of Ibb chanted slogans calling for Saleh to be put on trial.

Saleh's reversal

Mohammed al Qadhi, who teaches at the University of Sana'a, said demonstrators do not appear to be backing down from their demands that Saleh leave office and be brought to trial.

"They were celebrating the revolution day, and they were demanding the prosecution of the president and his relatives, and they were [insisting] that they will go on [with] these protests until they bring down the regime of Saleh," said al Qadhi.

Saleh angered many of his opponents Sunday after he refused again to sign a Gulf Arab regional plan for him to step down. Saleh said he would agree with the plan if his opponents agreed to simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections, a proposal that throws yet another wrinkle into a growing political crisis.

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