Three dead in clashes over Yemen army revamp

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 14, 2012 11:47 AM
Three dead in clashes over Yemen army revamp

SANAA (Reuters) - Three people were killed in clashes in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Tuesday when members of the elite Republican Guards clashed with regular troops in a challenge to a presidential reorganization of the military, an army source said.

Last week, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi transferred command of some Republican Guards units to a newly formed force called the Presidential Protective Forces, under his authority. Other units were placed under a different regional command.

Hadi aims to curb the clout of Brigadier General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Guards commander and a son of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh who was forced out by an uprising last year, and stabilize a country where Saleh's legacy still looms large.

"Three were killed and nine were wounded in the clash, and now the Yemeni troops have gained control of the area again," the army source said, without specifying whether the casualties were members of the security forces.

The fighting occurred near the defense ministry after extra government troops were sent to defend the building. Shooting broke out after Republican Guard soldiers surrounded the ministry in central Sanaa.

Residents said that although Yemeni troops had regained ground around the ministry, Republican Guard soldiers were still moving around in neighboring areas.

The army source said the Guards' action was a strike at Hadi's authority and reflected continuing turmoil in Yemen, six months after Saleh stepped down to end protracted mass protests against his autocratic 33-year rule. Hadi, his deputy, replaced him under transition deal brokered by Yemen's Gulf neighbors.

Lawlessness and al Qaeda's presence in Yemen have alarmed the United States and Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter. They increasingly see Yemen as a front line in their war on jihadi militants to protect the interests of the West and its allies, including oil shipping lanes off Yemen's coast.

In an unrelated incident on Tuesday also in Sanaa, a man carrying a bomb walked into the ministry of agriculture and was killed instantly when the device went off, an army source said.

"The bomb only affected the man carrying it, no one else was killed or wounded, and it's still unclear who this man is."

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Editing by)