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Yemen troops encircle ex-president mosque amid coup fears

Riot policemen and presidential guards are positioned at the site of a planned protest by supporters of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa June 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

SANAA: Yemeni troops Sunday were surrounding a Sanaa mosque controlled by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh amid concerns he is plotting a coup, a source close to the presidency said.

Saleh had ruled Yemen for 33 years before he was forced to resign in February 2012. He was replaced by his longtime deputy President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi under a UN and Gulf-sponsored deal.

Presidential guard troops backed by armoured vehicles blocked access to the large Al-Saleh mosque in Sanaa's southern district, an AFP correspondent reported.

The source close to the presidency told AFP that weapons had been stored in the mosque and were being guarded by gunmen loyal to the former president.

A tunnel connecting the site to the presidential palace had been discovered.

Hadi suspects his predecessor is "plotting a coup", the source said, without elaborating further.

The surrounding of the mosque late Saturday came days after the authorities shut down a newspaper and television channel owned by Saleh.

The media outlets, both named Yemen Today, have often been singled out for their coverage, seen as biased against the government formed after Saleh's departure.

They have also been accused of inciting protests in Sanaa against power cuts and water and fuel shortages.

Although weakened, Saleh still heads the influential General People's Congress (GPC) political party and retains the loyalty of some elements in the military.

Critics accuse him of impeding the country's political transition.

In February 2013, the United Nations reiterated a threat of sanctions against anyone who interferes in the delicate transition process, naming Saleh explicitly.

 

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Summary

Yemeni troops Sunday were surrounding a Sanaa mosque controlled by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh amid concerns he is plotting a coup, a source close to the presidency said.

Saleh had ruled Yemen for 33 years before he was forced to resign in February 2012 . He was replaced by his longtime deputy President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi under a UN and Gulf-sponsored deal.

The source close to the presidency told AFP that weapons had been stored in the mosque and were being guarded by gunmen loyal to the former president.


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