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Westerners flee Sanaa as south mobilises

SANAA (Reuter) - North Yemen yesterday demanded that rival southern leaders surrender immediately to halt the civil war tearing the country apart. South Yemen responded by ordering a general mobilisation and calling on all its army reservists, estimated at more than 40,000 men, to report within 24 hours.

A northern military official said troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a northerner, were within 12 miles of the southern capital of Aden. Witnesses said two northern planes had been shot down over the city - one apparently trying to bomb the residence of Vice-President Ali Salem al- Baidh, the southern leader.

The United States organised an airlift of scores of US, German, British and Egyptian nationals from Sanaa to the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Hundreds of the estimated 1,500 Westerners in Yemen and 5,000 people of dual Western-Yemeni nationalities have already been evacuated from Aden by French warships to Djibouti.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Robert Pelletreau, said in Oman that the north seemed to have the advantage.