17 dead in Yemen violence

July 31, 2012 at 11:31 PM
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SANAA, Yemen, July 31 (UPI) -- Yemeni security forces battled a band of army defectors at the Interior Ministry building Tuesday and officials and medical staff said at least 17 people died.

"A total of 11 soldiers' bodies have been brought to the police hospital and dozens of others were receiving treatment," doctors at a hospital in Sanaa told China's Xinhua News Agency.

The Interior Ministry said the bodies of six defectors were found inside the ministry's building. Twenty-eight defectors were taken into custody, the ministry said.

"The central security forces have taken control of the ministry building after dozens of defected soldiers fled the scene," the ministry said.

Police officials said the fighting broke out after troops who defected from the First Armored Division and gunmen loyal to opposition tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar entered the ministry headquarters late Monday, Xinhua reported. The gunmen were linked to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemen Post said.

Xinhua said the several hours of fighting Tuesday was the worst instance of violence since Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office in February.

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