Sunday, September 21, 2014

Clashes in Yemeni capital cast doubt on deal signing | Middle East | Worldbulletin News

Clashes in Yemeni capital cast doubt on deal signing

The Yemeni government and armed Shi'ite Houthi rebels reached an agreement to end the worst violence for years in the capital Sanaa, U.N. special envoy Jamal Benomar said.

World Bulletin/News Desk
Shi'ite Houthi rebels and government forces fought for a fourth straight day in the Yemeni capital, residents said, despite the announcement of a U.N.-brokered agreement due to be signed later on Sunday.
Residents reported sounds of heavy shelling throughout Saturday night in an area of the capital near the headquarters of the first armoured division camp and close to the religious university of Iman.
The fighting, which intensified on Thursday after weeks of protests and clashes, appeared to be the biggest challenge yet to a U.N.-backed transition to democracy launched after veteran ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down in 2012.
U.N. special envoy Jamal Benomar, who had held talks with Houthi leader Abdulmalek al-Houthi in their home province of Saada on Wednesday and Thursday, announced late on Saturday that an agreement had been reached and was to be signed on Sunday.
Benomar said in a brief statement that the agreement would bring to an end confrontations between the Yemeni army and the supporters of the Shiite Houthi movement in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
Benomar did not, however, mention further details about the agreement. Neither did the government of Yemen nor the Houthis comment on the reported deal.
Earlier in the day, Yemen's higher security committee imposed a nighttime curfew in some of the neighborhoods of the capital Sanaa.
The committee cited what it described as "security situation developments" and takeover by Shiite Houthi militants of the headquarters of the Yemeni state television in the capital for its decision.
It said in a statement that the curfew would start from 9:00pm local time (18:00 GMT) and come to an end at 6:00am local time (03:00 GMT) every day from Saturday.
The committee did not, however, set a date for ending the curfew.
It said it would be imposed in three neighborhoods and a village in northern Sanaa.
The security committee called on Yemenis to abide by curfew hours and stay at home to protect their lives. It said violators would be risking their lives, according to the statement.
Yemen state television returned on air late on Saturday, almost half an hour after it went off air following its takeover by Houthi militants.
The television had to resume its broadcast from an alternative site, according to a television official, who refused to mention information about this alternative site.
Earlier in the day, fumes were seen pillowing from the television building, a short time after the building was shelled by Shiite Houthi militants.
The fire was, however, limited to part of the building, which did not disrupt the broadcast of Yemen's state television, an Anadolu Agency reporter said.
Building workers, meanwhile, called on the Yemeni army to send yet more reinforcements to protect them, according to a request for help issued by the television staff.
Some of the workers of the building were injured in shelling by Houthi militants earlier in the day.
"Houthi militants had prevented ambulances from reaching the site of the attack," the television said.
Yemen television said earlier that Houthis returned to attack its building by heavy and light weapons for the third day in a row.
The Shiite movement has not commented on the alleged attacks.
In recent days, Sanaa has seen deadly clashes between army troops and Shiite Houthi militants amid protests demanding the resignation of the Yemeni government.
Yemen has been dogged by unrest since a popular uprising that began in 2011 ousted longstanding president Ali Abdullah Saleh one year later.

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