A mob of military and police “defectors” loyal to former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked Yemen’s Interior Ministry today, sparking a day-long series of clashes that left 17 people killed and scores wounded.
The slain include 11 Yemeni soldiers who were part of the group that eventually fought off the defectors and six defectors whose bodies were found inside the building after the fight. The military reported 28 of the attackers were also arrested.
Yemeni police say the attack started when the defectors and fighters loyal to tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar showed up at the Interior Ministry. Shortly thereafter, they set up barricades and it took some 10 hours to remove them from the area.
The captured defectors claimed they were operating under orders from defector Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, and that they were ordered to conquer the ministry “to protect it.” This is the largest clash between troops and defectors since Saleh’s ouster, and reflects what remains a deeply divided government.
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