Thousands flee Yemen fighting

SANAA (AFP) - Dissident tribesmen fought loyalist troops in the Yemeni capital for a third straight day on Thursday leaving bodies on the streets and sending thousands of residents fleeing. More than 60 people have now been confirmed killed in the fighting since a fragile truce between the forces of powerful tribal leader Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar and embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh collapsed on Tuesday. But medics said they had no word yet on casualties from Thursdays fighting as ambulance crews were unable to access the Al-Hasaba neighbourhood of north Sanaa where Ahmar has his base. The bodies are still scattered in Al-Hasaba and ambulances cannot reach it due to the dangerous situation there, a medical official said. At least 15 more people died in overnight fighting, medics said, adding to 47 killed on Tuesday and Wednesday. A seven-year-old girl, who was hit by a stray bullet, also died of her wounds, an official at Al-Jumhuriya hospital said. Residents said the fighting was the fiercest so far after loyalist special forces who had received US training as part of Washingtons war on terror joined the battle. Thousands of armed tribesmen were on their way to Sanaa to boost Ahmars forces, tribal leaders said. An advanced guard clashed with loyalist troops when it was stopped at a military post 15km north of the capital, they added. Witnesses said a warplane broke the sound barrier over Ahmars hometown of Khamr in an apparent attempt to intimidate the tribesmen of his Hashid confederation. Mohsen Sinan, 70, said he and 30 members of his household were trying to flee Sanaa along with many other residents. Sanaa is deserted now and if these battles continue, Yemen will be finished, he said. Many shops were closed and long queues formed outside petrol stations. Those residents who remained in the city complained of water shortages and power cuts.

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