Two killed in clashes between rival factions in Yemeni army

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 02, 2013 8:10 AM
Two killed in clashes between rival factions in Yemeni army

SANAA (Reuters) - At least two people died and five were wounded in clashes between soldiers once loyal to Yemen's ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh and a rival army faction in Sanaa on Friday, police and medical sources said.

Hundreds of members of Yemen's now dissolved elite Republican Guard gathered on a parade ground near the presidential palace in the capital to protest against what they say is neglect by the new leadership.

The Republican Guard was run by Saleh's powerful son until Saleh's successor, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, abolished it last year in a bid to unify the army.

Yemen's military remains divided between allies and opponents of Saleh, who stepped down in a Gulf-brokered deal in 2012 after a year of protests against his rule, but still looms large in Yemen.

The soldiers were demanding that the ministry of finance pay them a bonus for the holy month of Ramadan and called on the minister to resign.

When shots were fired between them and the Presidential Guard, a force which is loyal to Hadi, five people were wounded, a police source said.

At least two soldiers from the Republican Guard died, a medical source said.

Demonstrations by soldiers against late salary payments from the cash-strapped government are common in Yemen, and often end in violence. A third of Yemenis live under the poverty line of $2 a day and unemployment is estimated at about 35 percent, with youth joblessness at 60 percent.

The clashes ended when heavily-armed riot police and military police arrived on the scene, a witness said, although the demonstration continued.

Stability in Yemen is a priority for the United States and its Gulf allies, concerned about al Qaeda militants operating in a country that adjoins top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and overlooks major global shipping lanes.

(Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari and Khaled Abdullah; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by David Evans)