Supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh tried to break up a demonstration by hundreds of opponents of the government yesterday and shots were fired as unrest in the country entered its eighth straight day.
As many as 100 government supporters tried to disrupt the demonstration by more than 1,000 Saleh opponents gathered outside Sana’a University chanting “Leave, Ali.”
One Saleh supporter fired shots from an assault rifle, but there were no reported casualties. Saleh’s supporters soon dispersed.
Both sides fired weapons on Saturday in protests outside the university — the first reported use of firearms by demonstrators.
At least five students were shot and wounded on Saturday in clashes, with the Yemeni interior ministry denying initial reports that one had been killed in the capital.
“A number of demonstrators were wounded ... but only four remain in hospital,” an unnamed ministry official said on the ministry’s Sep26.net news Web site, adding that there were no deaths in Sana’a.
Earlier, a reporter correspondent had said one protester was shot dead and five wounded in the clashes after he had seen the body of the student, hit by a bullet.
The shootings came as government supporters, armed with guns, batons and rocks, tried to break into the campus and students responded by hurling stones.
Tribesmen and plainclothes police also attacked the students during the clashes, the correspondent said, adding that police did not intervene, but blocked roads leading to the campus.
Later, supporters of Saleh dispersed the protesters and took control of the area around the university campus and surrounding roads, the reporter said.
On Friday, at least four anti-regime protesters were wounded by Saleh supporters, who attacked the demonstration armed with batons and axes.
Students have tried since last week to march on the presidential palace, but have been intercepted each day by stone-throwing regime supporters.
Yesterday, police arrested the main southern opposition leader, Hassan Baoum, shortly after he arrived in the main southern city of Aden to take part in an anti-government protest, his son said.
Baoum was arrested along with his son Fawaz at the Naqib hospital after he had undergone some medical tests, another son said.
He said that Baoum arrived in the port city from nearby Lahij earlier in the day with the intention of joining the protest.
The arrest came one day after medics reported a 16-year-old youth was killed by a stray bullet near his home in the city’s Sheikh Osman district as security forces tried to break up an anti-regime protest.
His death took to 10 the number of people killed in the city since rioting erupted there on Wednesday last week, according to an Agence France-Presse tally.
Demonstrations took place in the neighborhoods of Khor Maksar, al-Mansura, Sheikh Osman and in Dar Saed, where security forces detained eight people, as well as in Mualla, the sources said.
“The ruling party are killers” and “No south, no north — our revolt is for the youth,” protesters chanted.
Three demonstrators were wounded when police opened fire to disperse a protest in Sheikh Osman, witnesses and medics said.
Hundreds of protesters had taken to the street chanting anti-Saleh slogans after the funeral of a demonstrator who was killed by police on Friday.