Explosions rock base in Sanaa, airport shut |
Gulf Times - 31 October, 2011
Four explosions rocked an air base in Sanaa yesterday, setting two fighter jets on fire and prompting the closure of the Yemeni capital’s international airport, aviation officials said.
“There were four explosions at the air force base alongside the international airport and two fighter jets went up in flames,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Sanaa international airport closed after the explosions, another aviation official said.
“The airport was closed right after the explosions ... All flights have been re-routed to Aden,” the south’s main city, the official said.
Residents of the airport district area reported loud explosions and massive flames and plumes of smoke.
There were no immediate reports of casualties and no claims of responsibility for an attack.
Yemen’s capital has seen weeks of fighting between troops loyal to President Abdullah Saleh and tribesmen who back protesters demanding an end to his 33-year rule. Tribesmen in areas outside the capital have complained for months of attacks by the air force against their towns.
Tribal sources said earlier yesterday that four people, including three children, were killed overnight when troops shelled the tribesmen’s region north of the capital, hitting a petrol station.
Thirteen others were wounded in the attack in the Arhab area, some 40km from Sanaa.
In the city of Taez, south of Sanaa, a doctor said one civilian was shot dead and two were wounded by government forces who fired at a car. The incident occurred in a district where there have been clashes between government forces and pro-opposition tribesmen.
Months of anti-government protests have divided impoverished Yemen, pushing the country to the verge of civil war and a humanitarian crisis.
Neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the international community fear growing lawlessness in Yemen is giving Al Qaeda’s regional wing scope to plan and potentially launch attacks in the region and beyond.
The ruling party is likely to name Saleh’s deputy as its presidential candidate if a transfer of power is carried out under a Gulf-brokered power transition plan, Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi said yesterday.
“The General People’s Congress intends to announce Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi as its candidate in the presidential election in the coming period,” Janadi told reporters.
The UN Security Council issued a resolution on October 21 deploring the fighting and calling on Saleh to leave office in line with the transition plan.
Saleh has dug his heels in, surviving an assassination attempt and three times agreeing to sign the Gulf plan only to back out at the last minute.
Violence has showed no sign of easing.
In Aden, one soldier was killed and two wounded by a roadside bomb targeting their patrol yesterday, a security official said. Islamist militants had probably planted it, the official said.