Two dead, 18 wounded in Yemen clashes

2011-09-25 18:51

Sana'a - Yemeni soldiers killed two tribal fighters and wounded 18 anti-government protesters in the latest clashes in a week of unrest that has raised fears of a descent into all-out civil war, a report says.

In an escalation of the violence to outside the capital, two pro-opposition tribesmen were killed in the mountainous region of Naham, a clan sheikh said, after the army shelled the area where the armed tribesmen were centred and clashing with loyalist troops.

Soldiers used live rounds against protesters in Sana’a as they marched out of their protest camp into the streets of the capital.

Eighteen people were wounded and medics said two were in critical condition. Doctors denied a television report that one protester had been killed.

About 17 people were killed on Saturday when government forces attacked the main opposition protest camp in Sana’a, said witnesses and medics, bringing the death toll in five days of fighting to around 100.

Analysts fear that a slide towards anarchy in the unruly Arabian Peninsula state could create opportunities for a wing of al-Qaeda based there and endanger oil shipment routes through the Red Sea.

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh unexpectedly returned to the country on Friday after a three-month stay in neighbouring Saudi Arabia recuperating from an assassination attempt in June.

His arrival in Sana’a came despite the entreaties of Western and Gulf states for the veteran leader to end his 33 years in power following an eight-month revolt.

Saleh, 69, has not yet announced his intentions since coming back to Yemen, but said on Saturday he was "carrying the dove of peace and the olive branch".

He is expected to give a speech on state television later on Sunday.