Soldiers guard the interior ministry in Sanaa
Yemeni soldiers stand guard outside the Ministry of Interior in the capital, Sanaa, on March 9. A firefight erupted Tuesday between Yemeni security forces and gunmen, dressed in police uniforms, who had been surrounding the headquarters of the interior ministry, witnesses said. © Gamal Noman - AFP/File
Soldiers guard the interior ministry in Sanaa
AFP
Last updated: July 31, 2012

Yemen forces and gunmen clash outside ministry

A firefight erupted Tuesday between Yemeni security forces and gunmen, dressed in police uniforms, who had been surrounding the headquarters of the interior ministry, witnesses said.

The gunmen, who were previously working unofficially in Yemen's police department, had been surrounding the ministry's headquarters in Al-Hasaba district of Sanaa since Sunday, demanding that they be enrolled back into the impoverished country's police force.

The exchange of fire using Kalashnikovs was heard intermittently throughout the late morning hours, witnesses said.

The gunmen had served unofficially among the ranks of Yemen's police when it was led by Mohammed Abdullah al-Qawsi during the rule of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, security sources told AFP.

Qawsi had promised to recruit them officially before President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi sacked him in May.

The gunmen stormed the ministry on Sunday and observed a sit-in before setting a two-day ultimatum for officials to meet their demands that include paying them compensation and employing them officially in the police department.

Last year's uprising in Yemen ended when Saleh signed a Gulf-brokered agreement under which he agreed to transfer power to Hadi.

Based on the agreement, Hadi must restructure the military and security apparatus, which had been controlled by officials with close ties to Saleh and accused of corruption.

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