SANA, Yemen — A cease-fire between government forces and opposition tribesmen in Sana, the capital, broke down Tuesday, renewing fears that the country's continuing political stalemate could drag it into civil war.
The fighting came a day after government forces pounded a major coastal city with airstrikes to dislodge Islamic militants and, to the west, disrupted a large antigovernment demonstration in the city of Taiz in clashes that killed at least 20 protesters.
Artillery explosions and machine-gun fire echoed across the center of Sana from late Monday into Tuesday morning as fierce fighting shattered a tenuous truce that had lasted less than two days.
Black smoke rose over the Hasaba neighborhood as security forces attacked a compound belonging to the family of Hamid al-Ahmar, the strongest tribal rival of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and tribesmen loyal to the Ahmars retook a government building near the compound that they had vacated as part of the truce on Sunday.
Violence broke out in Sana a week ago after Saleh refused once again to follow through on a promise to sign an agreement that would lead to his resignation, after months of street protests demanding his ouster. It was the third time since the uprising began in January that Saleh had agreed to transfer power and then reneged.
Each side blamed the other for breaking the cease-fire as fighting flared in the Hasaba district, where many government ministries are located. Witnesses said a police station was burned down before dawn Tuesday. The two sides traded artillery fire near the state-run TV headquarters.
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