A violent crackdown on protesters in Taiz, even as the Yemeni regime resumes negotiations for a transfer of power, may drive Yemen further toward broader armed conflict. Yemen’s prolonged unrest may also help unify the factionalized Southern Movement, which calls for secession from the north.
Violence in Taiz flared over the past two days. Shelling in Taiz killed fifteen people and injured dozens more. The shelling has focused on al Rawda and Zeid al Mushky neighborhoods in Taiz. Security forces also began operations in Freedom Square. Witnesses reported that fighting, sparked Thursday by the death of a loyalist soldier, occurred in six different areas in the city. Opposition tribesmen claimed to have injured four loyalist soldiers during the fighting; Yemen’s defense ministry reported that two soldiers were killed. Loyalist troops are positioned inside al Thawra (Revolution) Hospital and have set up at least 22 checkpoints along the main roads in Taiz. Reports also indicate that tanks and armored vehicles re-entered the city after leaving Wednesday.
Al Qaeda-linked militants publicly lashed five youths in Jaar in Abyan governorate. The youths, who each received 80 lashes, had been accused of taking drugs. Six al Qaeda-linked militants died in clashes between the militants and Yemeni army troops in Zinjibar, south of Jaar, according to a government official.
Fighting broke out in Aden’s al Mansoura district Friday. Armed tribesmen looted a government building and raised the flag of former south Yemen. The tribesmen were reportedly from Shabwah governorate and led by Sheikh Hassan Banan al Awlaki, who had declared support for secession from the north. At least eight people were injured in the fighting. A local government official denied the presence of al Qaeda militants in the attack; however, representatives of the youth movement reported that Sheikh Hassan Banan al Awlaki had al Qaeda militants under his command.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry said that its forces are prepared to defend the country. The ministry released a statement that said, “The Republican Guard forces are in a state of high readiness and vigilance to defend the country against subversive armed elements of the opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and the defected First Armored Division.”