Six Killed in Yemen Violence, German Farm Likely Source of E. Coli Outbreak

Tribesmen loyal to Yemeni opposition tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar show the V-sign for victory as they stand guard near his home in the capital Sanaa on June 6, 2011. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

One day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment for injuries suffered in an attack on his compound, six people died in Sanaa, the capital. Three were reportedly fighters loyal to Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, a powerful tribal leader, and three were government troops.

Saleh’s departure has created confusion over who will lead the country, with Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi acting as his stand-in per Yemen’s constitution. Whether Saleh will remain in Saudi Arabia or return is unknown; his government claims his absence is temporary. His sons remain in charge of the national military, which has continued its battle with tribal groups.

In recent weeks, Saleh has refused to sign a deal supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia that would allow for a peaceful transition of power and new elections in two months.

The turmoil in Yemen poses serious challenges for U.S. officials. Saleh has been an ally in counter-terrorism efforts and his government given aid to combat the group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. According to the Washington Post:

The flight of Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia deprives the United States of a fitful ally in the fight against al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate and injects new uncertainty into counterterrorism operations that were already hampered by the country’s bloody internal strife, according to Yemen and security experts.

U.S. officials are alarmed that the political instability in Yemen will create an opening for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to expand its reach.

 German Farm Identified as Likely Source of E. Coli Outbreak

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E.Coli Strain Outbreak in Europe Grows, Clashes Escalate in Yemen’s Capital

In this handout photo provided by the Helmholtz Center for Research on Infectious Diseases an EHEC bacteria is visible on May 30, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo courtesy Manfred Rohde, Helmholtz-Zentrum fuer Infektionsforschung (HZI)/Getty Images)

The World Health Organization is warning that a new strain of the E. Coli bacteria is responsible for sickening more than 1,500 people and killing at least 18. The outbreak appears to be centered primarily in Germany, where some of those who have fallen ill visited, but the original source of the bacteria has not been confirmed. Two people who traveled from Germany to the United States are also ill.

According to the Associated Press:

Preliminary genetic sequencing suggests the strain is a mutant form of two different E. coli bacteria, with aggressive genes that could explain why the Europe-wide outbreak appears to be so massive and dangerous, the agency said.

Russia has moved to ban produce imports from the European Union. Early in the outbreak, there were reports that Spanish cucumbers could be to blame, although that has not been confirmed. Experts have advised those in Germany to avoid cucumber, lettuce or tomatoes until the source is identified.

The spread of the disease is likely to slow if the original contaminant is contained, but experts warn of secondary spread if those who are ill don’t take precautions like handwashing.

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