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N. YEMENI TROOPS ADVANCE, THEN DECLARE A CEASE-FIRE

SHARE N. YEMENI TROOPS ADVANCE, THEN DECLARE A CEASE-FIRE

Northern Yemeni forces isolated an Aden suburb and moved to within six miles of the city center on Saturday, scoring the first firm results of their 3-day offensive against the southern stronghold.

The northern-based government then proclaimed a cease-fire beginning at midnight Saturday (2 p.m. MDT). There was no immediate response from the secessionist south.Five truces have been proclaimed in the 7-week-old civil war in this poor nation on the tip of the Arabian peninsula. All have collapsed within hours.

The port of Aden, self-proclaimed capital of Yemen's breakaway south, came under renewed heavy artillery and rocket barrages on Thursday.

Northern troops captured the south's Bir Naama base, on the Gulf of Aden, in heavy fighting Friday. They then advanced and cut the land route from Aden to Little Aden, an industrial suburb and oil refinery across the bay.

Reporters taken to the captured base west of Aden could clearly see the city's skyline.

"We just wanted to divide Aden in two," Lt. Col. Mujlly al-Moradi said during a tour of the base, where six SAM-6 antiaircraft missile batteries were captured intact.

"Now the matter is in the hands of the political leadership. They told us not to go further and to hold our positions."

The U.S.-educated officer said there were still some southern fighters sniping at his troops from the refinery, which had been damaged in previous air raids.

As he spoke, sporadic shelling could be heard in the city itself.

Earlier, Western diplomats with contacts in Aden said northern forces were firing one shell or rocket a minute on the city. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

The city of 350,000 - plus 50,000 refugees - lost electricity at midday and also was without running water, reported the Kuwait News Agency, which has a correspondent in Aden.