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Middle East

Yemen tribesmen overrun state news agency: witnesses

SANAA: Tribesmen loyal to a powerful opposition chief have taken control of state news agency Saba in Sanaa, a high-ranking official and witnesses said on Wednesday, as fighting in the Yemeni capital resumed.
  
Clashes between security forces and Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar's tribesmen broke out in Sanaa on Monday and have left at least 44 people dead, according to an AFP tally based on reports by medics, the government and tribesmen.
  
The tribesmen also hold the national airline Yemenia and have tried to occupy the interior ministry headquarters, according to witnesses and the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
  
"Sheikh al-Ahmar's men are required to withdraw from the buildings under their control," the official said. "Otherwise, we will force them to do so."
  
A Saba journalist, said that tribesman had taken over state news agency's headquarters during the night.
  
"Armed men stormed the Saba headquarters during the night and demanded that we leave," the journalist told AFP on condition of anonymity.
  
On Monday, a Yemeni official said on condition of anonymity that the tribesmen had taken over the trade and industry ministry.
  
The buildings controlled by followers of Sheikh al-Ahmar, who heads the powerful Hashid tribal federation, are located in the Al-Hasaba neighbourhood, where he lives, and adjoining streets.
  
Access to the area has been cut by cement blocks and burning tyres placed in the streets.
  
There was a lull in the fighting early Wednesday, but gunbattles broke out again later in the day, an AFP correspondent said.
  
President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Sunday explicitly warned of civil war as he refused to sign the transition plan brokered by impoverished Yemen's oil-rich Arab neighbours in the Gulf. Protesters have been demanding his ouster since January.
  
Sheikh al-Ahmar in March pledged his support for the opposition.
  
"I announce in the name of all the members of my tribe that I am joining the revolution," Ahmar said, calling for Saleh "to exempt Yemen from the bloodshed and make a quiet exit."

 

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