After Sunday's bloodbath in which 26 people were killed, a fresh wave of violence has rocked Yemen, drawing the country close to a civil war after loyal government troops and defecting military units began fighting each other.
On Monday, at least 20 people were killed by snipers and other pro-regime forces in the capital, Sana'a, the Associated Press, quoting medical sources is reporting. As the violence surged, government forces have killed nearly 50 people since Sunday night. The latest assault on protesters is the fiercest in months since the pro-democracy uprising began, seeking the exit of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Mr. Saleh is recuperating in a medical facility in Saudi Arabia after a rocket attack in June injured him during a Friday prayer assemblage in a mosque inside the presidential compound.
Eyewitnesses said bodies taken to the mortuary bore horrific marks of violence that could have been inflicted either by heavy calibre rounds or Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG).
Following Sunday's carnage, Sana'a's streets have been rocked by intense street battles. Troops loyal to Gen. Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar — the defected commander of the first armoured division — are battling the Republican Guards, the elite force commanded by Ahmed Saleh, President's son. Gen. Al Ahmar's troops are being backed by the anti-Saleh tribal militia led by Sadeq Al Ahmar. Amid the escalating violence, helicopters have been hovering in the skies, in a city that has begun to resemble a war zone.
Observers say the Guards are trying to dislodge Gen. Al Ahmar's men from the hilltops surrounding the Yemeni capital. Earlier, presidential troops blocked all entrances to Sana'a, causing a huge accumulation of stranded vehicles on the city outskirts.
As the violence spread countrywide, one protester was killed in Taiz. In Aden, live bullets injured three dissidents. Stunned by the surge in fighting, Abdul Latif al-Zayani, secretary-general of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and United Nations envoy Jamal bin Omar have arrived in Yemen. Analysts say that they will try to persuade all parties to agree on a transitional plan that would govern a smooth transfer of power. At one point President Saleh appeared prepared for a GCC-brokered deal to transfer power, provided he and his family were not prosecuted. But Al Jazeera quoting Saudi officials is reporting that “among the guarantees demanded by Saleh are that his son be kept in the next government”. However, in the backdrop of the on-going bloodbath, for which the President's son is squarely in focus, the opposition might want to substantially change the script of a peace deal.
Fighting escalated on Sunday when protesters began to march beyond Change Square, the focal point of the protest, enclosed within a security envelope provided by Gen. Al Ahmar's loyalists. They were soon fired upon by men in plain-clothes occupying nearby roof-tops, who were joined by government troops lodged inside a nearby building.