Sanaa: Authorities in Yemen have moved against military figures who defected from the camp of the country’s embattled president to join the opposition, arresting several officers today, according to a military official.
The detentions reflect President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s defiance in the face of two months of protests demanding he relinquish power and growing defections by loyalists, tribal allies, ranking government officials and military figures.
The arrests followed a demonstration at al-Anad air base in the southern Lahj province on Tuesday, where dozens of soldiers and airmen joined the calls for the president to step down, said the military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The official, who holds the rank of a colonel, said several senior officers were detained but would not elaborate.
Human rights groups have said that at least 58 activists and opposition supporters have been detained in the past three weeks, including more than 20 protesters who were injured in clashes with police in Sanaa on Saturday.
Lawyer Abdel-Rahman Berman from the HOOD rights group said two women protesters were abducted on Tuesday by female security agents who forced them into a black car without license plates but a government symbol on its rear window.
Meanwhile, opponents and supporters of Yemen’s embattled president marched in cities and towns across the nation for rival rallies after Friday prayers.
In the capital Sanaa and elsewhere, hundreds of thousands chanted against Saleh, while renegade military troops made up defectors provided security to the opposition demonstrations.
Outside the presidential palace in Sanaa, a mass crowd of Saleh’s supporters carried banners reading: “Friday’s Reconciliation.”
The demonstrators wore loyalists badges depicting Saleh, or showing the president and his son who runs the Republican Guard, or badges of Saleh and a nephew who commands the special presidential forces. Zee News