Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Violence in Yemen

44 Injured in Fresh Clashes in Yemen: Officials

Agence France Presse
15 March 2011

SANAA — At least 44 protesters were wounded when police opened fire on Monday to disperse demonstrations in Yemen, a strategic US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, officials said.

The violence came after eight people were killed in weekend clashes with security forces, sparking condemnation and calls for restraint from the United Nations and Western powers.

Twenty people demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power for 32 years, were injured when they tried to assault the government headquarters in Jawf, northeast of the capital Sanaa, an official said.

Security forces and pro-regime loyalists guarding the building opened fire. Two loyalists were injured by stones hurled by the protesters.

In Marib province, east of Sanaa, 17 protesters were injured in similar circumstances when security forces opened fire to prevent them storming the local government headquarters.

Meanwhile, five protesters were wounded in the southern port city of Aden when police opened fire and and tear-gassed anti-regime demonstrators who blocked a road with burning tyres, witnesses said.

Medics said that two protesters were shot, and three others sustained injuries after being hit by police batons.

Demonstrations also raged in other parts of the south.

In Lahij province, hundreds took to the streets in the city of al-Hawtah chanting anti-regime slogans, while police fired warning shots to disperse demonstrators in the city of Mukalla, in the southeastern province of Hadramut.

Meanwhile, at least 10,000 protesters marched peacefully in the province of Daleh, witnesses said.

A parliamentary committee tasked with probing events in Aden has charged southern separatists and the Al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen of turning peaceful demonstrations into acts of vandalism.

According to the ruling party website, the committee said 11 people were killed between February 8 and February 26, including an officer and a soldier, and 77 others were wounded, including 47 military personnel.

Some 40 people have been killed in political violence since unrest erupted in the deeply tribal country at the end of January, as pro-democracy revolts shook the Arab world.

In a speech to tens of thousands of people at Sanaa's stadium on Thursday, Saleh promised to protect protesters from violence and offered to hold a referendum on a new constitution which would devolve power to parliament.

The United States, which sees Saleh as a pillar of stability in a fragile nation, welcomed the gesture, but Yemen's parliamentary opposition says the president has lost all credibility and must resign this year.

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