Tribe of Yemen leader clashes with army unit
SANA, Yemen — Tribesmen loyal to Yemen’s embattled president clashed yesterday with a group of soldiers whose commander has sided with the opposition, and the fighting in a suburb of the capital Sana left three tribesmen dead, tribal elders and military officials said.
The clash followed weeks of turmoil in Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s military and police forces have cracked down on protesters demanding he step down.
The fighting erupted as a convoy of about 30 cars with armed tribesmen from Saleh’s Sanhan tribe arrived at the headquarters of the First Armored Division in western Sana to meet with its commander, Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who had earlier joined the opposition.
Tribal members and army officers at the scene said Ahmar, who also hails from Saleh’s tribe, met a tribal chief, Ismail Abu Hurriya, who tried to persuade the renegade commander to return to the president’s camp.
It was unclear how the shooting started at the gate of the army compound. Some said government supporters appeared and opened fire, but there were conflicting reports. Several tribesmen were also wounded by the gunfire, witnesses said.
Ahmar said the gun battle was a failed attempt to assassinate him. In a statement from his office, he accused a group of infiltrators among the mediator’s guards of being behind the violence. He would not say who sent the alleged assassins.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told Saleh yesterday that he sent a small team to determine how the United Nations could best help quell tensions.
The UN chief’s office said office said he “expressed strong concerns for the dead and the injured, and urged utmost restraint from both government and opposition’s forces.’’
Middle East LONDON — British lawmakers issued a critical report yesterday showing that Britain approved sales of shotguns and tear gas to Libya, machine guns and sniper rifles to Bahrain, and military technology to Yemen over the last three years.
Parliament’s foreign affairs, defense, international development, and business committees said in a joint report that ministers failed to consider the implications of weapons sales to the Middle East and elsewhere.
“Both the present government and its predecessor misjudged the risk that arms approved for export to certain authoritarian countries in North Africa and the Middle East might be used for internal repression,’’ the report said.
— Associated Press
Syria BEIRUT — Syrian Activists called yesterday for a new wave of demonstrations to honor more than 80 people killed in a crackdown on antigovernment protests that erupted nearly three weeks ago.
Also yesterday, the state-run news agency said gunmen killed two police officers in a suburb of the capital. Police killings are extremely rare in this tightly controlled country, although the government says that several police officers and other security troops have been killed since the mass protests began March 18.
It was not clear if the shooting in Kfar Batna, about 9 miles from Damascus, was connected to the recent unrest. President Bashar Assad has blamed the recent bloodshed on gangs and a foreign conspiracy to sow chaos in Syria.
“The Syrian Revolution 2011’’ Facebook page called for protests across the country today, tomorrow, and Friday, calling it “Martyrs Week.’’ By yesterday, the page had more than 105,000 fans.
Assad has made a series of gestures toward reform in response to the cries for change.
— Associated Press