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Northern Yemenis Claim Capture of Key Base With PM-Yemen-Souk Blues, Bjt

May 17, 1994

SAN’A, Yemen (AP) _ Northern forces claimed they captured a key southern military base today in Yemen’s civil war and made further gains in an oil-producing region.

San’a radio said northern troops were in ″full control″ of the al-Anad base 35 miles northwest of the southern capital, Aden. The base is a major strongpoint on the key highway that links the north with Aden.

Northern leaders claimed several times previously that they either had taken the base or were about to capture it. Both sides have issued exaggerated and conflicting communiques since civil war broke out May 5.

Communications with Aden were cut and it was impossible to check the northern claims with southern authorities. Reporters have little access to combat zones.

San’a radio, which is run by the north, also claimed northern forces overran two southern barracks and captured 20 tanks, a MiG jet fighter and a other equipment in the oil-producing region of Shabwah, 150 miles northeast of Aden.

Northern warplanes also raided southern targets, San’a radio said, without elaborating.

The north and south are struggling for control of oil fields, but it was not clear whether oil wells were affected by the fighting. Shabwah is a large region and the north has not said exactly where the fighting is raging.

Yemen, a largely tribal nation of 14 million people on the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, discovered petroleum in commercial quantities a few years ago and recently became a modest oil exporter.

The Shabwah fields produced just 5,000 barrels of oil daily out of Yemen’s pre-war production of about 350,000 barrels a day. Foreign oil companies have been hoping to find more oil there.

The civil war began after months of skirmishing between northern and southern military units. Southerners accused the north of trying to dominate the country after conservative North Yemen and socialist South Yemen merged four years ago.

A U.N. official said today that about 6,000 Somali refugees are facing serious shortages of food and water because of the fighting. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. relief agency in Geneva, said fighting has kept aid convoys from reaching the refugees’ al-Kowt camp 30 miles east of Aden.

Refugees reported to relief workers that Yemeni troops confiscated their food and took generators and batteries used to pump the camp’s water from wells, Colville said. He said about 100 Somalis had been killed during the fighting.

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