SANA'A// The increasing violence in Sana'a, that culminated Friday with a deadly attack on the presidential compound, has left hospitals flooded with the dead and injured and sent thousands fleeing the city in fear.
Some neighbourhoods appeared deserted yesterday, with few people and cars in sight, a day after 11 officials died and President Ali Abdullah Saleh was slightly injured in a continuing battle with dissident tribal fighters. According to medics, at least one civilian was killed and dozens more wounded by gunfire and rockets in the clashes.
Zakaria al Sharabi, whose Hasaba neighbourhood was caught between the warring sides, was forced to rush his 13-year-old brother, Mohammed, to hospital when their home was hit by shelling Friday night. He said Mohammed was upstairs when a shell fragment lodged in his back.
"I rushed to take him to hospital but could not find a car. I had to carry him and walk for a distance and, after some time, I found an ambulance," said Mr Sharabi.
"I was happy to find the ambulance but when we arrived at the [private] hospital, there were no doctors and the hospital was full of dozens of injuries," he said.
It was two hours before a doctor arrived to do the surgery, he said.
A medic working in the hospital said staff was unable to cope with the increasing number of casualties.
As the situation calmed down yesterday, with only intermittent clashes and blasts, Ahmed Kanaf, a resident of Habra district in the city's north-east, said he was able to move around although there were armed men and troops everywhere.
His neighbourhood has seen fierce battles between the pro-Saleh forces and tribal fighters supporting Sadeq al Ahmar, leader of Hashid, Yemen's most influential tribal confederation. The battle between the two sides broke out May 23.
"Some streets are completely blocked and can not be accessed by cars. I have seen barricades everywhere. Life is completely paralysed and most of the shops are closed down. This is during the day but, after 6pm, life stands still completely," Mr Kanaf said.
He said some of the streets of the northern part of the capital are blocked by either citizens or military troops, mainly at night.
"Some take their guns and stand guard to protect their zone and houses."
Mr Kanaf said owners of more than half of homes in his neighbourhood have fled. Some of the homes have been looted.
"The clashes do not stop and the robbery and looting intensifies when the gunfire intensifies," Mr Kanaf said.
Mohammed al-Yarimi, a shop owner and father of six, decided to move his family to his hometown of Yarim in Ibb province.
"We are scared of the consequences of the attack and the potential retaliation. Living here has become very dangerous, mainly after the clashes have expanded to different parts of the city," Mr Yarimi said yesterday as he packed luggage into a truck in front of his house at al-Nahda zone, north of the capital.
Mr Yarimi said he would move his family to the village and return to guard his shop and the house. He said the blackout for the past six days in the northern part of the city has damaged his business.
"We have some foodstuffs that have to be kept in the fridge. I have a generator which we start when the blackout goes for some hours but it is difficult to operate it for days. The foodstuff got rotten and I had to throw them away. I am really worried how things will unfold and the future of my family and business," Mr Yarimi said.