Day after U.N. resolution, at least 9 killed in Yemen clashes

Smoke billows Saturday in Sanaa, Yemen, following fierce clashes between President Ali Abdullah Saleh's troops and rival forces.

Story highlights

  • An ex-general claims Saleh said he wants to "take revenge," kill opposition
  • A presidential official calls the allegations lies and part of a smear campaign
  • At least nine die during clashes, 23 are wounded
  • The fighting comes one day after U.N. Security Council resolution
At least nine people were killed and 23 wounded during clashes between Yemen security forces and rival fighters on Saturday, medical officials said.
Fighting erupted in several districts of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, and explosions could be heard across the city, said the medical officials, who declined to be named for safety reasons.
The conflict again pitted government forces against a group loyal to Hashid tribal leader Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar and another group loyal to military defector Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who is also from the Hashid tribe.
CNN cannot independently confirm the accounts and the Yemeni government was not immediately available for comment.
In a statement issued Saturday, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar claimed that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told his generals to "start attacking and use all kinds of weapons" against civilians opposed to his remaining in power.
These and other remarks were allegedly made in a phone call that the former general's camp intercepted, Mohsen al-Ahmar said. CNN did not hear, and thus cannot authenticate the content of such a call.
Mohsen al-Ahmar -- who defected in March, after suspected government forces killed more than 50 protesters -- alleged in a statement that the president told his military leaders to "destroy everything," saying "there is no difference between a military location and a civilian's house, men or women, a child or elderly person."
According to the ex-general's account, Saleh said the international community would not help the opposition and told his military leaders to "feast over their blood and dead bodies. ... I want to take revenge, even if the whole country is burned down."
A senior official in Saleh's administration blasted the allegations as false and described them as a feeble attempt by Mohsen al-Ahmar's camp to hurt the constitutional government's reputation.
"These are lies and untrue," said the senior official, who is not authorized to talk to the media. "President Saleh would not incite (forces to) kill his own people."
The official claimed, moreover, that "opposition forces are bombarding residential areas and are blaming the government, to cover up their crimes."
Residents in Sanaa, meanwhile, say Yemeni government forces on Saturday targeted the compounds of the family of Sadeq Al-Ahmar.
His family's homes are scattered across three districts in the capital -- Hasabah, Sofan and Natha.
This is the second attack on his family in a week.
Last week, witnesses and residents reported heavy clashes between forces and tribesmen. A spokesman for the family said six people were killed when government forces attacked homes of tribesmen in that attack.
The Ahmar tribes first clashed with government forces in May when 12 days of fighting led to the death of more than 160 people.
The tribes are supporting change in the country and have demanded the ouster of the president.
In a separate attack, clashes erupted between soldiers loyal to a defected military general and government forces in Hasaba and Sofan districts.
One resident of Hasaba told CNN that Republican Guard troops knocked on her door Saturday and warned her, like her neighbors, that they have 24 hours to leave.
The fighting comes one day after the U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned the months of violence in Yemen. But the resolution stopped short of explicitly calling for the resignation of the country's president.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, meanwhile, welcomed the U.N. resolution against the beleaguered Arab nation.
That regional alliance's Secretary-General Abdul Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani stressed "the need to sign and implement the Yemeni crisis settlement agreement...at the earliest possible time," he said in a written statement Saturday.
The proposed Gulf council-brokered accord, which is backed by the United States and European Union, would allow Saleh to resign from power in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
The Security Council resolution, passed by a 15-0 vote, demands Yemen allow peaceful demonstrations and end crackdowns on civilians.