Conflict & Justice

Street clashes in Yemen capital leave 39 dead

At least 39 people have died in clashes on the streets of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, after a ceasefire between tribesmen and security forces collapsed.

The heavy fighting, which began Tuesday between tribesman loyal to to Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar of the powerful Hashid tribal confederation, and forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, continued into Wednesday night.

The renewed violence in the Yemeni capital ended a ceasefire announced Friday that had halted a week of fierce clashes, GlobalPost’s Jeb Boone reports from Sanaa. The two sides have blamed each other for breaking the truce.

A medic at Jumhuriya hospital told the news agency Agence France-Presse that 37 people were killed in the clashes, while an AFP photographer reported seeing the bodies of two tribesmen at Al-Ulum hospital. Most of the dead are reported to be combatants.

Bloomberg reports that at least 41 people have died in the fighting on Tuesday and Wednesday, citing interviews with doctors at two hospitals in Sanaa.

As violence erupted in Sanaa, residents fled for safety and foreign embassies stepped up security precautions, in some instances bolting their doors. Kuwait on Wednesday withdrew its diplomatic staff from the city, one day after Italy closed its embassy, AFP reports.

The fighting left the northern Al-Hasaba district of Sanaa in ruins. Usually busy streets stood empty, and most shops were closed in the city, with long lines at gas stations. Checkpoints have popped up around Sanaa, manned by tribesmen armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and missile launchers.

President Saleh has refused to step down after 33 years in power despite three months of protests, an escalating death toll and continued international pressure.