Yemeni tribesmen shoot down army warplane

Yemeni tribesmen shoot down army warplane

A military spokesman said a Sukhoi SU-22 "fell during a regular mission" and held opposition leaders "responsible for the incident," Saba state news agency.

The jetfighter was downed by anti-aircraft guns near Arhab, 40 kilometres north of the capital, where armed tribesmen have been locked in combat with the elite Republican Guard, led by Saleh's son Ahmed, witnesses said.

"We saw the downed plane in flames on the ground," one witness said.

The plane crashed in the village of Beit Azar, and the pilot who had ejected was captured by tribesmen, tribal sources said. Heavy air strikes have targeted the tribal area of Arhab after a general and six other soldiers were killed Sunday in clashes between tribesmen and the Republican Guard.

General Abdullah al-Kulaibi, head of the 63rd brigade of the elite Republican Guard unit, was killed in the attack by tribesman opposed to Saleh's rule in the strategic town of Nihm, the defence ministry said.

Four of the attackers were killed during the assault on the military base, about 60 kilometres from the Yemeni capital, it said. Tribal sources claimed on Monday that 33 troops were captured in the confrontation.

Meanwhile, three more gunmen were killed in overnight clashes with the guard, tribal sources said. Nihm is one of several villages and towns that collectively make up the strategic northern gateway into Sanaa and is site of at least five Republican Guard bases.

The elite unit has so far prevented dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who now controls part of the capital, from calling in reinforcements from Yemen's northern provinces where parts of his division are deployed.

The tribesmen who carried out the assault on the military base late Sunday are allied with General Ahmar and have been battling government troops for control of the area. Saleh, who is under international pressure to relinquish power and allow new elections, returned to the country last week, sparking violence in which scores have died.

The 69-year-old president has repeatedly refused to sign a power transfer deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in terms of which he would hand power to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)