08/05/2011 12:27 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2011

Yemen: Government And Tribe Clash in Sanaa

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni government forces clashed on Friday with supporters of the powerful Hashed tribal grouping led by Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar that is demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh leave office.

The two sides exchanged fierce gunfire in a northern district of the country's capital Sanaa, eye witnesses told Reuters. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Saleh is clinging to power despite being hurt by a bomb blast in his compound in June that capped a round of fighting between his forces and gunmen from the Hashed confederation. He is convalescing in Riyadh but has vowed to return to Yemen.

The Arab world's poorest state has edged toward chaos during six months of protest against the 69-year-old leader, which its neighbor Saudi Arabia and the United States fear could provide a foothold to the country's Al Qaeda wing.

Long standing conflict with separatist forces in the country's south has flared anew and intersected with a battle against Islamists the government accuses of links to Al Qaeda.

Islamist fighters seized Zinjibar, capital of the southern Abyan province in late May, and the ensuing fighting has displaced as many as 90,000 residents of the province.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Jason Benham; Editing by Joseph Logan and Sophie Hares)
Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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