40 die in Yemen as violence escalates after president returns

Protesters in Sana on Saturday demand that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh resign. A dissident general said Saleh was propelling the country toward civil war and urged his ouster.

Associated Press

Protesters in Sana on Saturday demand that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh resign. A dissident general said Saleh was propelling the country toward civil war and urged his ouster.

SANA, Yemen — Tensions between Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and an influential dissident general escalated Saturday amid fresh assaults that killed at least 40 people and injured scores.

The mounting violence came a day after Saleh abruptly returned from Saudi Arabia after nearly four months and called for a cease-fire and a return to negotiations to solve Yemen's crisis.

In a sternly worded statement, Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, whose forces control many parts of the capital, warned that Saleh was propelling the country toward civil war and urged the United States, Yemen's Persian Gulf neighbors and the international community to stop him.

Mohsen called Saleh "ignorant and bloodthirsty" and compared him to the Roman emperor Nero, who burned down his own city.

Mohsen's statement came shortly after mortar shells fell on the main base of his 1st Armored Division, killing 11 troops and injuring more than 100.

Saleh spokesman Ahmed al-Sufi denied that government forces were behind the assault.

In another part of the capital, government forces attacked Change Square — a sprawling camp where activists have staged an eight-month sit-in to end Saleh's 33-year reign — with mortar shells and heavy gunfire in Saturday's predawn darkness. Snipers shot at protesters and soldiers protecting the square. As many as 17 were killed and scores injured, according to medics at a makeshift hospital there. Hundreds were forced to flee.

"Seventy percent of the dead and injured were shot by snipers," said Mohammed al-Qubati, a medic who manages the hospital.

Interior Minister Mouthar al-Masri told reporters Saturday that eight government soldiers had been killed and dozens injured. He described the attack as the work of extremists.

Forces battle for Gadhafi hometown

With NATO jets roaring, revolutionary forces fought their way into Sirte, Moammar Gadhafi's hometown, on Saturday in the first significant push into the stronghold in about a week. Forces also battled to rout Gadhafi loyalists from Bani Walid and southern enclaves.

Plea at U.N.: Mahmoud Jibril, Libya's de facto prime minister, addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, calling on the United Nations to unfreeze all frozen Libyan assets and urging support for his nation in its road to reconstruction and reconciliation.

Judges criticized at Mubarak's trial

The trial of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak came to a halt Saturday after attorneys for the families of victims killed in the uprising against him filed a motion asking for new judges after what they called the court's outrageous displays of bias during testimony Saturday by Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. Mubarak's former defense chief, Tantawi took over as head of the interim military council now ruling Egypt after the former president's fall in February. The trial was suspended until Oct. 30.

Clashes mark Bahrain elections

Hundreds of protesters clashed with security forces during Bahraini parliamentary elections Saturday. The protest was part of the Shiite majority's response to the election in the Sunni-ruled monarchy. Mohammed al-Maskati, president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, said turnout for the election was minimal. Government accounts said participation was high.

Times wires

40 die in Yemen as violence escalates after president returns 09/24/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 24, 2011 11:27pm]

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