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Rebels Battle Loyalists for 3rd Day in S. Yemen

January 16, 1986|From Times Wire Services

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Rebel troops clashed with government army and navy units in South Yemen for a third day Wednesday, but there were reports that loyalist forces had crushed the coup bid and regained control of the pro-Soviet state.

Aden radio resumed broadcasts Wednesday for the first time since the coup attempt began Monday night. It quoted an official statement as saying that President Ali Nasser Hasani was presiding over round-the-clock meetings of the ruling Socialist Party Politburo.

Earlier, there were conflicting reports on Hasani's fate.

In London, a spokesman for the British Foreign Office said "we have heard (unconfirmed) reports" that the leader of the Arab world's only Marxist country died Wednesday of wounds sustained during the attempted coup.

But sources in the Persian Gulf reported Tuesday that Hasani, 49, had been slightly wounded Monday during an argument with his deputy prime minister, Ali Ahmed Nasser Antar, an alleged coup plotter.

And the state-run Kuwait News Agency, quoting reliable sources, said Wednesday that Hasani "is in good condition and was not wounded" in the attempted coup, apparently led by Antar and three other government officials.

Aden radio said that Antar was shot to death by Hasani's guards and that the three others were executed the same day.

"These wanted to bring death to the people," the broadcast said, "and now they have become corpses lying in the garbage of history. Others have been arrested and are awaiting trial."

However, another radio station broadcasting from north of the capital said the four rebels were still alive.

Although communications to South Yemen remained difficult Wednesday, there were reports that Hasani forces had retaken control.

"It was learned this evening (Wednesday) that forces loyal to President Hasani have regained control of the situation," the Kuwait News Agency said in a broadcast monitored in Abu Dhabi.

The Soviet Union, South Yemen's closest ally, Wednesday broke a silence it had maintained since the attempted coup, saying, "Government troops have restored control in the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen."

The official Soviet media made it clear it was not taking sides. Both sides in the conflict support continued ties to the Soviets, who maintain military bases in the strategic country that controls the southeastern entrance to the Red Sea.

But according to Yemeni sources who asked not to be identified, the alleged coup plotters were unhappy with Hasani's recent efforts to attract foreign development aid to include pro-Western Persian Gulf states.

"It (the coup bid) was a matter of ideological differences," said one source.

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