Clashes in Yemen Leave Dozens Dead

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins, and this is The World. The fighting in Yemen is getting more intense. Earlier today, troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh fought pitched street battles against opposition fighters in the capital of Sanaa. President Saleh is under mounting international pressure to step down after weeks of anti-government protests demanding his ouster. Well, today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives Saleh another public nudge.

[Audio Clip]

Hillary Clinton: We cannot expect this conflict to end unless President Saleh and his government move out of the way to permit the opposition and civil society to begin a transition to political and economic reform.

[End of Audio Clip]

Mullins: But for the moment, Saleh remains and Yemen is on the brink of civil war. The BBC's Lina Sinjab is in Sanaa. Lina, what's happening on the streets of Sana today?

Lina Sinjab: Well, it seems to be quiet in some parts of Sanaa, but around the area of Al-Hasaba (sp.) attention is escalating with a tax ongoing on the Al-Akmar tribesman. Many people have been wounded and a number of people have been killed, including some soldiers according to government sources. People are really concerned. Some of them have fled the area, leaving whole Sanaa there fearing a civil war that could take place. It doesn't look at the moment that any political solution is coming, and only violence is prevailing.
Mullins: Do you know who right now is clashing with Yemeni forces? Because it seems as if there are different conflicts that have blossomed in different parts of the country.

Sinjab: Yes, exactly, and that's the concern of many of the protesters here. For example, what's happening in Zinjibar, in the south of the country, right by the coastal side of Abyan Province, some armed forces have taken over the city, have taken over some government buildings, which gave some of the authorities here, the Ali Abdullah Saleh, his forces, to launch an attack on them. Of course, they claim that these are Alqaeda forces, but many question whether these are really Al-Qaida. While in Taiz, also in the south, Taiz was one of the first cities to start the revolution calling on President Ali Abdullah Selah to step down, and it has almost the largest one over the last four months. They have attacked protesters in their square. They have shot protesters, and even have used snipers to shoot them. And they have burned some of their tents there just trying to destroy the whole camp. Of course, the government's justification's saying that these protesters have broken the law. They've tried to attack police stations and government officers, and that's why they have been trying to defend themselves by shooting at them. Of course, this has created lots of anger across the country, even here in Sanaa, and people are not happy with the violence prevailing.

Mullins: In Sanaa, right now, are the protesters continuing to come out? And to what extent are protests-you mentioned this a little bit-but to what extent are protests continuing in other areas of conflict in Yemen as well?

Sinjab: Protests are ongoing in different parts, but the main two cities, which are Taiz and Sanaa, I must say the number of people, especially here in Sanaa, who are taking to the street is far less than what you have seen a week ago. But, of course, we can't really decide [whether] people have been scared with the violence because the ones I've been speaking to said that they will continue.

Mullins: And then, are these people who are no longer protesting-how are they living? And how is the average citizen there living? Are they held up at home? Or do they feel that they can be mobile at all?

Sinjab: Well, that's the issue. Although many reports are going about tension in Sanaa and these explosions that are taking place, but it's really taking place in one part of Sanaa, which is a little bit of north of the city. But the rest of it, the movement is fine. Of course, it's not the natural-many of the shops are closed. The restaurants are closed except for the popular ones. So, people are concerned about the situation, and especially the youth who started the revolution. They're very angry at the violence that took place, and they're angry from both sides. The opposition represented by the tribesman of Al Al-Akmar, who started the clashes with the government, and also angry with the government saying that they have provoked the opposition into this violence.

Mullins: All right. The BBC's Lina Sinjab speaking to us from Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Thanks, Sanaa.

Sinjab: Thank you.