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Yemen cease-fire fails as fighting grips capital

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.

LIBYA hit again: NATO resumed its airstrikes on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, at dusk Tuesday after an unsuccessful peace mission by South African President Jacob Zuma on behalf of the African Union. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was quoted in a statement issued by Zuma's office as having told the South African leader that "he was not prepared to leave his country, despite the difficulties."

SYRIA OFFERS AMNESTY: President Bashar Assad issued a general amnesty Tuesday, state media reported, in his latest effort to counter nationwide protests. Details issued late in the day by the government indicated that the amnesty amounted to sentence reductions for certain crimes. The offer came amid growing public outrage, fueled by a video of the tortured and battered body of a 13-year-old boy who was arrested in April.

Yemen cease-fire fails as fighting grips capital 05/31/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 11:25pm]
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