Families flee from Sana’a violence

from Yemen Times
Published on 25 May 2011 View Original

SANA’A, May 25 — Dozens of families began fleeing Sana’a amidst fierce armed clashes between anti-government tribal forces and Saleh-loyal military units erupted last Monday.

There has been no concrete action taken by either party to end the current conflict following yesterday attack on a tribal mediation meeting at the home of prominent Hashid Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ahmar.

The clashes are taking place in the Al-Hasaba area of northern Sana’a, where several important ministerial buildings are located, including the ministry of interior.

Al-Ahmar, who was a tribal mediator between president Saleh and the opposition in Yemen, announced his support for the popular uprisings demanding an end to Saleh’s 33-year on March 19th following a mass killing of over 52 peaceful protesters on March 18th.

Families have fled the Al-Hasaba area, as well as other areas of Sana’a, seeking refuge from violence. The humanitarian situation in these areas is also dire as there is a lack of medical services and basical medical supplies, according to an eyewitness who spoke to the Yemen Times over the phone.

“I saw dozens of families leaving their homes in Al-Hasaba fearing their lives over ongoing shelling in the area,” said Abdul Rahman Al-Sumaini, local citizen and eyewitness in Al-Hasaba.

Al-Sumaini said that his 12-family members left Sana’a on Tuesday to their hometown in Amran, 50 km north of Sana’a, due to the armed clashes between Al-Ahmar’s armed men and Saleh’s security forces.

In times of civil strife and risk of violence, Yemeni families in large cities often retreat to their family villages. The rural areas provide protection for families because they are, in many cases, quite isolated, far away from violence taking place in cities.

As clashes intensified throughout the area, pieces of shrapnel began hitting the Sumaini family home. That is when he decided to rush his family to safety.

“The scene is terrifying outside, any one passes the street is vulnerable of being shot from the police forces stationed on the roofs of building overlooking streets,” he explained.

He said that On Wednesday morning he saw a man with his family walking on Amran Street and the man was shot on his left leg,“While I myself was walking on the same street, bullets strayed over my head,” said Al-Sumaini

“The ammunition was being fired from the police who were standing on the roof of Al-Raebee building on the street,” he said.

The eyewitness said that armed men of Al-Ahmar used rocket-propelled grenades, mortar shells, bazookas, and different kinds of machineguns and hand-grenades throughout the fighting that has gone on continuously for three days.

Saleh’s security forces have brought tanks into the area and are also using heavy artillery, mortar shells, bazookas and some missiles on the top of surrounding mountain, according to the eyewitness.

This is taking place with no available medical assistance to aid the large numbers of wounded in the area. The eyewitness said that during Monday evening, the day clashes erupted, he saw a man who was shot on his chest on Amran St, opposite Sana’a hotel and the dead person remained on the street until the morning of the following day when the health ministry ambulance car came and picked him up.

Hashd is the largest tribal confederation in Yemen and brothers of Sadeq Al-Ahmar and Hamid Al-Ahmar are prominent businessmen in the country with political affiliation against Saleh.