Category: Yemen


Yemen says it foils planned Qaeda attack in Aden

A school door is painted with the colours of Yemen's national flag in Sanaa

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Saleh in Taizhttp://beta.news.yahoo.com/yemen-says-foils-planned-qaeda-attack-aden-151214704.html

ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) – Yemen said on Monday its security forces had foiled a planned al Qaeda attack in the southern province of Aden.

The announcement came three days after a suicide bomber killed four soldiers and a civilian and wounded 16 people in Aden. A local newspaper said on Monday that investigators had identified the suicide bomber as a Saudi national.

Yemen’s state news agency Saba quoted a security source as saying six people “among some of the most dangerous elements” of al Qaeda were captured while trying to infiltrate into the province, which includes a port and oil refinery.

The report described the intended target of the thwarted attack as “vital and economic installations,” giving no further details.

Months of popular protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh end his 33 years in power have brought near chaos to Yemen, which is home to al Qaeda’s potent regional wing and also faces a separatist revolt in its south and a tenuous peace with Shi’ite rebels in its north.

The Yemeni army has been battling hundreds of Islamist militants affiliated to al Qaeda who seized control of the southern city of Zinjibar and smaller towns in the province of Abyan. The United States and Saudi Arabia fear that al Qaeda will exploit the country’s chaos to launch attacks.

The security source said the arrested militants, all bomb experts, were carrying detonators and wireless communications equipment.

The state news agency, which frequently plays up the threat from al Qaeda, gave no further details and the report could not be independently verified.

Saba said five al Qaeda militants have been killed and seven Yemeni soldiers were injured in clashes in Abyan.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mokhashaf; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Peter Graff)

 

 

Yemen opposition warns bloodshed may derail deal

A wounded anti-government protestor is brought to a field hospital during clashes with Yemeni security forces in the capital Sanaahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110428/wl_nm/us_yemen

By Mohammed Ghobari and Mohamed Sudam Mohammed Ghobari And Mohamed Sudam Thu Apr 28, 2:45 pm ET

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemen’s opposition warned the government on Thursday that violence against street protesters demanding the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh could derail a deal aimed at ending the political standoff.

Plainclothes gunmen killed 12 people and wounded dozens more in Yemen’s capital on Wednesday when they opened fire on anti-government marchers just days before a Gulf-mediated deal to end the crisis was due to be sealed. “In the event of your inability to protect protesters, we will find ourselves unable to pursue an agreement that the regime seeks to use to shed more blood,” the opposition coalition said in a statement.

A deal to end the crisis by easing Saleh out within a month was expected to be signed on Sunday in Riyadh, three months after Yemenis took to the streets, inspired by revolts that toppled autocratic rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.

But on Thursday Saleh appeared to raise a potential problem when he told Russia’s Arabic language Russia Today channel that he objected to the presence of Qatari representatives.

“We will have reservations about signing if representatives of Qatar are present among the Gulf foreign ministers,” Saleh said. “(Qatar) is involved in a conspiracy not just against Yemen but against all Arab countries.”

He singled out Qatar’s pan-Arab television channel Al Jazeera, which Saleh has accused in the past of provoking the protests. He also accused Qatar, a tiny but gas-rich Gulf state, of funding the opposition in Yemen.

The balance of power has tipped against Saleh, long a key ally of the West against al Qaeda, after weeks of violence, military defections and political reversals.

Wednesday’s killings capped a day of demonstrations by tens of thousands of Yemenis, many protesting against a plan supported by the government and the main opposition group which would give Saleh a month-long window to resign.

The protesters in Sanaa demanding Saleh resign immediately were shot at while attempting to reach an area beyond the district where they have been camped out since February, witnesses said. Ten died on the spot, while two more died of wounds on Thursday, doctors said.

In addition to the 12 killed in Sanaa, a protester and a soldier also died in clashes during protests in the southern port city of Aden on Wednesday.

On Thursday night armed men opened fire on state security offices in Zinjibar in south Yemen killing one soldier, and gunmen exchanged fire with guards outside the central bank in the port city of Aden.

The large turnout at protests against the Gulf deal showed the ability of the largely young protesters, from students to tribesmen to activists, to act as potential spoilers. They have vowed to stay in the streets until their demands are met.

It was also not clear that opposition parties, comprised of Islamists, Arab nationalists and leftists who have been in and out of government in past years, could halt the protests even if required to by the transition agreement.

SALEH TO SIGN DEAL ON SATURDAY

Washington and neighboring oil producer Saudi Arabia want the standoff resolved to avert a descent into more bloodshed in the Arabian Peninsula state that would offer more room for a Yemen-based al Qaeda wing to operate.

A government official said that Saleh, who has ruled for 32 years, would sign the agreement on Saturday in Sanaa, a day ahead of the official signing ceremony in the Saudi capital, which Saleh was not expected to attend.

On Sunday, the ruling party’s vice president and a former prime minister, Abdel-Karim el-Eryani, would sign in Riyadh on behalf of the party, the official said. The opposition would also sign on Sunday.

Both sides were expected to host large rallies in Sanaa on Friday ahead of the signing. The government planned a “Friday of Constitutional Legitimacy,” while the opposition planned a “Friday of Honouring Martyrs.”

The deal, brokered by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, would give Saleh and his family and aides immunity from prosecution.

It provides for Saleh to appoint a prime minister from the opposition, who would then form a transition government ahead of a presidential election two months after his resignation. But the one-month window for Saleh to resign has sparked fears it may offer time for potential sabotage.

Whoever leads Yemen’s transitional government will not only struggle to quash an aggressive al Qaeda branch, which has tried to hit U.S. and Saudi targets, but also inherit simmering rebellions in the north and south of the country.

Around 142 protesters have been killed as unrest has swept Yemen, where some 40 percent of its 23 million people live on $2 a day or less, and a third face chronic hunger.

The Interior Ministry said on Thursday that more than 21 policemen had died and 1,000 had been wounded since February 3.

Gunmen kill 10 in Yemen anti-government protests

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a rally to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh outside Sanaahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110427/wl_nm/us_yemen

By Mohammed Ghobari Mohammed Ghobari Wed Apr 27, 2:01 pm ET

SANAA (Reuters) – Plainclothes gunmen killed 10 people and wounded dozens more in Yemen’s capital Wednesday when they opened fire on protesters demanding the immediate ouster of the president, whom Gulf Arab mediators want to ease from power.

The killings capped a day of demonstrations by tens of thousands of Yemenis, many protesting against a plan supported by the government and the main opposition group which would give President Ali Abdullah Saleh a month-long window to resign.

The deal, brokered by Gulf Cooperation Council, would also give him and his family immunity from prosecution.

The protesters in Sanaa were attempting to reach an area beyond the district where they have been camped out since February, and were demanding Saleh leave office immediately, witnesses said.

“We received bodies and have taken them to a private hospital,” said Mohammad al-Qubati, who is a physician at the field hospital where protesters have gathered. A doctor at the scene later said at least 10 people had died of their wounds.

Earlier, protesters blocked access to a key Red Sea port, and clashed with security forces in south Yemen. One protester and one soldier were killed in those clashes, hospital and local officials said.

“The people want a departure, not an initiative,” the protesters shouted outside the port of Hudaida, where maritime operations functioned as usual.

Separately, security forces shot at least four protesters in the southern Lahij province, witnesses and medical sources said.

The deal aimed at ending Yemen’s political standoff was expected to be signed Sunday in Riyadh, three months after Yemenis first took to the streets to demand Saleh’s ouster, inspired by revolts that toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.

The balance of power has tipped against Saleh, who has been a key ally of the West against al Qaeda, after weeks of violence, military defections and political reversals.

In Hudaida, protest organizer Abdul Hafez Muajeb said the coastguard had welcomed demonstrators and had raised a banner saying they would not use weapons against the people.

“We will close the port because its revenues are used to fund the thugs,” said protester Muaz Abdullah, referring to plainclothes security men who often use daggers and bats to break up protests.

PROTESTS REJECT GULF TRANSITION PACT

The large turnout at protests shows the ability of the mostly young protesters, including students, tribesmen and activists, to act as potential spoilers of the Gulf deal. They have vowed to stay in the streets until their demands are met.

It is also not clear that opposition parties, comprised of Islamists, Arab nationalists and leftists who have been in and out of government in recent years, could halt the protests even if required to by the transition agreement.

Washington and neighboring oil producer Saudi Arabia want the standoff resolved. They fear a descent into more bloodshed in the Arabian Peninsula state would offer more room for a Yemen-based al Qaeda wing to operate.

The Gulf deal provides for Saleh to appoint a prime minister from the opposition, who would then form a transition government ahead of a presidential election two months after his resignation. But the one-month window for Saleh to resign has sparked fears it may offer time for potential sabotage.

Mohammed Basindwa, a senior opposition leader regarded as a top candidate to lead a transition government, said he expected a deal to be signed without further negotiations, and said Saleh was not expected to attend the Riyadh meeting.

Saleh, who has ruled for 32 years, would sign the agreement in Sanaa while the opposition would sign in Riyadh in the presence of a government delegation, Basindwa said.

Asked if he was confident Saleh would step down after the 30-day window, Basindwa said: “The United States and the European Union and Gulf states guaranteed that all sides will stick to implementing the agreement.”

Other clashes erupted in the main southern city of Aden when young protesters tried to enforce a general strike that has paralyzed the port city as most businesses and schools closed, a local government official said.

Strikes were also under way in Taiz, which has seen some of the largest anti-Saleh protests, and in Ibb, south of Sanaa.

Elsewhere in the south, gunmen shot dead two more soldiers and wounded five in an attack on a military checkpoint that was blamed on al Qaeda loyalists, a local official said.

Around 130 protesters have been killed as unrest has swept Yemen, where some 40 percent of its 23 million people live on $2 a day or less, and a third face chronic hunger.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Crowds rally in Yemen for and against Saleh

File photo shows Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh looking at his watch during a rally in Sanaahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110422/wl_nm/us_yemen

By Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari Mohamed Sudam And Mohammed Ghobari Fri Apr 22, 5:05 pm ET

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemenis flooded the streets of Sanaa and Taiz on Friday in rival demonstrations for and against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who gave a guarded welcome to a Gulf Arab plan for a three-month transition of power.

He told supporters in Sanaa any arrangements had to be “within the framework of the Yemen constitution” — language which could mask objections to the plan — and also vowed to “confront challenge with challenge,” but without bloodshed.

“Guns can be used today but you cannot use them to rule tomorrow. We reject war,” Saleh declared.

Ten soldiers were killed in three attacks by tribesmen and al Qaeda militants in several provinces, officials said.

In the southern city of Taiz, riot police fired in the air to keep vast, unruly crowds of pro and anti-Saleh demonstrators apart, but there were no serious injuries, witnesses said.

A sea of anti-Saleh protesters, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, inundated the streets of Taiz, Yemen’s third city and an epicenter of opposition to the 69-year-old president.

But in Yemen’s northwestern city of Hajja, a 12-year-old boy was shot dead when security forces opened fire to prevent a crowd of anti-government protesters entering the city, witnesses told Reuters by telephone.

Tens of thousands of Saleh loyalists turned out in Sanaa, the capital, for what they called a “Friday of Reconciliation,” waving Yemeni flags and pictures of the president.

Their numbers were matched by protesters demanding Saleh’s immediate departure, spilling out of their usual protest area around Sanaa University to mark a “Last Chance Friday” in nearby Siteen street, where there was a heavy security presence.

That raised concern that Saleh’s security forces and republican guards might clash with troops loyal to renegade general Ali Mohsen, protecting the protesters in Sanaa.

Demonstrators voiced skepticism about the latest Gulf plan aimed at halting Yemen’s descent into more violence and chaos.

The proposal of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) calls for Saleh to hand power to his vice president one month after signing an agreement. He would appoint an opposition leader to lead an interim cabinet tasked with preparing for presidential elections two months later, a Yemeni official said.

IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION

The plan, presented on Thursday, also gives immunity from prosecution to Saleh, his family and aides — anathema to his foes, who would also have to end protests under the proposal.

“We won’t depend on any initiative that doesn’t demand that this man leaves right away,” said protester Manea Abdullah. “We are sticking to the demands of the revolution for an immediate departure and prosecution of those who killed our comrades.”

Saleh’s long-time Gulf and Western allies, concerned that chaos in Yemen will open more opportunities for ambitious al Qaeda militants, are trying to broker an orderly transition after three months of protests against Saleh’s 32-year rule.

Protests in the southern port of Aden started up later in the evening on Friday, as thousands of demonstrators calling for Saleh’s departure sought to avoid temperatures of over 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

While organized opposition parties may still be ready to do a deal, many protesters do not trust Saleh to implement it.

“This guy is a liar, we won’t believe anything even if the opposition accepts the Gulf initiative,” said Abdulnasser Ahmed.

“Every time he agrees to something, then backs off. We know his ways and so does the rest of the world. That’s why the world should support our demands that he go.”

In the lawless eastern province of Maarib, a local official said anti-Saleh tribesmen had ambushed troops trying to secure a key route for gas shipments, killing two soldiers, wounding 18 and destroying a tank and an armored vehicle.

Tribesmen disrupting the main road from Sanaa to Maarib, where most of Yemen’s gas is produced, have made it impossible for trucks to distribute cooking gas to the rest of the country.

Shortages have quadrupled cooking gas prices on the black market to 5,000 rials ($20) from 1,200. Infuriated residents have blocked roads in some Sanaa districts with empty gas bottles. The crisis has prompted others to join anti-Saleh protests, where they have scrawled “Leave” on gas canisters.

Prolonged turmoil has driven the rial to near-record lows of around 250 to the dollar from 214 nine weeks ago. It has become harder to find outlets ready to sell dollars, residents say.

Violence involving suspected al Qaeda militants also flared on Friday, with seven soldiers killed when their convoy came under fire in Maarib, a government official said.

One soldier was killed and another wounded when the army clashed with gunmen thought to belong to al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing tried to seize a post office in Zinjibar, in the southeastern province of Abyan. The armed men later sped away on motorcycles.

The toll in a Thursday night clash in the southern province of Lahej rose to five soldiers killed and three wounded, according to a local official. Two militants were also killed.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden and Erika Solomon in Dubai; writing by Alistair Lyon; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Yemeni police open fire on protesters, killing 3

Anti-government protestors shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa,Yemen, Mondahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110419/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_yemen

By AHMED AL-HAJ, Associated Press Ahmed Al-haj, Associated Press 27 mins ago

SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters Tuesday, killing at least three amid rising international concern over the strategically located nation.

The United Nations Security Council met late Tuesday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Yemen, where rights groups say two months of protests calling for the president to step down have claimed 120 lives.

A Yemeni government delegation also headed to nearby Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, for talks with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council over a proposal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to transfer power to his deputy to end the crisis. The opposition held similar talks in Saudi Arabia Sunday.

The country’s opposition, inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, says nothing short of Saleh’s immediate departure would end the unrest.

Strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea across from lawless Somalia, Yemen is wracked by rebellions, water and food shortages and hosts a deadly local affiliate of the militant al-Qaida network.

Tens of thousands took to the streets in the capital Sanaa and thousands demonstrated in Aden, Ibb, al-Hudaydah, Taiz and other cities where most of the shops were closed in support of the protesters.

The Sanaa protest turned violent when security forces opened fire, lobbed tear gas canisters, and stun grenades at the protesters as they tried to make their way to the capital’s main thoroughfare. The protesters replied by throwing stones.

A medical official and an eyewitness said at least two protesters were killed, and five were in serious condition. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Khaled al-Ansi, a protest organizer, said around 60 were injured by bullets or sharp objects. A number of those injured were policemen who joined the protesters, witnesses said.

An ambulance accompanying the protesters, carrying four female doctors, was seized by security forces and was taken away. Al-Ansi threatened that if the ambulance and the doctors are not released, the protesters would storm the riot police’s headquarters.

Thousands of protesters also marched in the southern city of Taiz, a hotbed of anti-government activism, demanding the president’s resignation when security forces opened fire.

The director of a city field hospital, Dr. Sadeq al-Shuja, said at least one was killed in the crackdown. Protesters also gathered outside a security office, where seven of their colleagues have been detained, demanding their release.

Four other protesters were killed in demonstrations in Taiz earlier this month.

The U.N. Security Council met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss the situation in Yemen for the first time, a sign of growing global concern about the situation. Council diplomats said the briefing, by U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe, was requested by the GCC.

“We are very concerned about the situation in Yemen,” German Ambassador Peter Wittig said as he headed into the meeting. Wittig said the council’s discussion “sends out a good signal” and “supports the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council to alleviate the tensions and find a solution to the Yemeni crisis.”

The New York-based Human Rights Watch welcomed the U.N.’s interest in Yemen and called on it to urge Saleh to stop the killings of peaceful protesters.

“Yemen’s brutal repression of opposition activists over the last few weeks finally landed on the radar of the Security Council, which clearly sees the issue as a threat to international peace and security,” said Philippe Bolopion, U.N. director for Human Rights Watch.

The U.N. children’s fund said Tuesday that at least 26 children have been killed during the protests over the last two months. Most died of wounds from live ammunition during clashes between security forces and anti-government demonstrators, said UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and protesters are calling for steps to improve livelihoods and open up the country’s restricted political life. The protests are the biggest direct challenge to Saleh’s three-decades in power. His weak government has little control beyond the capital and has struggled to confront an armed rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.

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Associated Press writer Anita Snow contributed to this report from the U.N.

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