40 killed in Sanaa, civil war looms

A Yemeni girl sits in the back of a vehicle loaded with her family’s belongings as they evacuate their house due to clashes between tribesmen and security forces in Sanaa on Thursday. AP

Residents were fleeing Sanaa by the hundreds, hurriedly fastening possessions to the roofs of cars, hoping to escape the violence that has killed more than 80 people since Monday.

The fighting, pitting the security forces of President Ali Abdullah Saleh against members of the country’s most powerful Hashed tribe led by Sadiq al-Ahmar, was the bloodiest Yemen has seen since protests began in January.

The battles threatened to spread into other parts of the capital Sanaa.

The defence ministry said 28 people were killed in an explosion in an arms storage area of Sanaa at dawn Thursday.

Fighters in civilian clothes roamed some districts on Thursday and machinegun fire rang out sporadically.

Sporadic explosions could be heard in the capital near the protest site where thousands of people demanding Saleh to leave after nearly 33 years in power are still camped.
Black smoke from mortar fire mixed with a haze of pollution and dust that hangs over Sanaa like a shroud.

Defusing the crisis

The United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of foiled attacks by a wing of al-Qaeda based in Yemen, have tried to defuse the crisis and stem any spread of anarchy that could give the global militant network more room to operate.

There are worries that Yemen, already teetering on the brink of financial ruin, could become a failed state that would undermine regional security and pose a serious risk to its neighbour Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

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