Tribal leader Sadeq Ahmar, center, walks with bodyguards outside his house… (Khaled Abdullah, Reuters )
SANAA, Yemen — Yemen's defense ministry claimed Thursday that 28 people were killed overnight in an explosion at a weapons storage facility in western Sanaa.
The announcement came with the nation's capital roiled by pitched battles between Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's forces and fighters loyal to Sadeq Ahmar, head of the Hashid confederation, the largest tribe in Yemen, which counts Saleh as a member.
Opposition parties disputed the government's claim about the explosion. They accused Saleh's Republican Guards of shelling a residential area and killing the 28 people.
Overnight a warrant was issued for the arrest of Ahmar -- who remains at the center of the recent fighting -- and his nine brothers, according the tribal sheik and news service reports. In a television interview on Thursday, Ahmar scoffed at demands for his capture.
"Neither he [Saleh] nor his friends are good enough for that," Ahmar said.
The fighting erupted Monday, one day after an internationally backed proposal for Saleh to step down in 30 days fell apart when Saleh refused to sign the deal. The violence has marked a nadir for Yemen since anti-government demonstrations erupted more than three months ago demanding that Saleh leave office. Saleh has been in power for more than 32 years.