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Armed opposition gaining ground in Taiz

Published on 7 February 2012 in News
Emad Al-Sakkaf & Shatha Al-Harazi (author)

Emad Al-Sakkaf & Shatha Al-Harazi


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TAIZ, Nov. 30 — A man was killed and three others, including a child, were injured after a shell hit the BeerBasha area in west Taiz on Tuesday.

Forces of the 33rd Division of the Khalid Republican Guards Camp avenged the kidnapping of a number of their soldiers by the armed opposition while also attempting to recover a main street connecting Taiz city and Al-Makha port on the Red Sea currently under the control of armed opposition.

“Suddenly there was shelling everywhere as the armed opposition and state military fought each other over our heads,” one of the frightened residents of BeerBasha told The Yemen Times. He added that the armed opposition seems to be winning as they managed to control BeerBasha and create their own checkpoints preventing government reinforcements from reaching the state military forces.

However, the report was strongly denied by a state security official who told The Yemen Times that no shelling took place in Taiz on Tuesday and “our forces did not hit residential areas”.

He added that the opposition Islah religious militia took over streets in Al-Hasab, BeerBasha and the airport locality. “They [Islah] kidnapped the Shamayatain district director Ahmed Abdo Saif along with five soldiers and attacked the electricity office director Adeeb Al-Shawafi who was injured before they ransacked his car.”

“The Islah militia are escalating their armed operations in Taiz and taking over new areas in order to foil the Gulf initiative,” said the state security source.

Taiz is the second biggest city in Yemen; the anti-government revolution started in Taiz before it hit Sana’a and the city has been a hotspot of violence. Taiz is regularly shelled by the army.

There are daily marches in large numbers in Taiz calling for the prosecution of honorary President Saleh. The power transition accord was signed in the Saudi capital Riyadh last week, the agreement guarantees immunity to Saleh.

The protesters march for different reasons. Some march in favorer of the Gulf Cooperation Council deal, others march against the deal but the largest group march against the regime and the political opposition who signed the agreement with Saleh. They often use the slogan “the departure of all”.  The “departure of all” marches have led to internal fighting among the protesters themselves. 

Taiz has repeatedly been a target by the military. Local shelling led tribal groups to fight the military. Militant groups in Taiz are headed by Shiekh Hamood of Al-Mekhafi, whose group is spread across the city. After the GCC deal was signed on November 23 a truce was signed between the military and the militant groups, in which the military checkpoints were removed for two days, however, the militants then took over the checkpoints.

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