Sat, April 07, 2012
World > Middle East

Yemen suspends all flights to Sanaa airport amid threats by fired general

2012-04-07 09:51:35 GMT2012-04-07 17:51:35(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SANAA, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's aviation authorities suspended all incoming and outgoing flights at Sanaa International Airport on Saturday amid threats by the fired air force chief to shoot down planes, officials said.

Late on Friday, commander of the air force Maj. Gen. Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar, a half brother of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, was officially sacked by Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, after months-long protests by air force soldiers.

A security official at the airport told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the aviation authorities closed the airport after the fired general threatened to shoot down any civilian plane.

"The general strongly oppose his removal... He asked Hadi to fire his opponents such as defected general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the commander of the defected First Armored Division."

Meanwhile, an official at Hadi's office told Xinhua anonymously that there would not be security problems regarding the dismissal of the air force commander.

"General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar is sick for months, and he was informed about his removal early before Hadi made the decree... and the general's son Haitham Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar is in fact running the intelligence service and nearly everything inside the air force since months ago," the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"Maybe there is a real problem that is threatening the aviation in the airport caused not by the fired general, but some armed tribesmen or angry low-ranking air officers... and the Interior ministry has started to solve such problems," he said.


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