Sat, Mar 19, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Yemen forces kill 10 demonstrators

CRACKDOWN:Tens of thousands of protesters in cities across the country have called for the immediate resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Reuters, SANA’A

People walk past a car damaged with shotgun pellets in the village of Sitra in Bahrain on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

Yemeni security forces and pro-government gunmen killed 10 people and wounded about 50 when they opened fire at a protest in Sana’a after Muslim prayers yesterday, medical sources and witnesses said.

A doctor said the death toll may rise further.

“Ten people were killed and the number is expected to increase, because there are 30 people in a critical condition,” said the doctor, at a field hospital at the protest camp at Sana’a University.

Gunfire broke out when security forces tried to prevent anti-government worshipers from marching after prayers near the protest base at Sana’a University, and plumes of smoke from burning tires filled the air.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis had gathered in Sana’a for competing prayers and protests as businessmen floated a proposal to end a standoff between Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and protesters demanding he step down immediately.

Yemen, next door to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, has been rocked by weeks of demonstrations that have undermined Saleh’s grip on power. Tens of thousands of protesters were also gathered in cities across Yemen, from the southern port city of Aden to Hodeida in the west.

The US, which has long seen Saleh as a bulwark against a dynamic al-Qaeda wing based in -Yemen, has condemned the bloodshed and backed the right for peaceful protest, but has insisted only dialogue can end the political crisis.

Saleh has promised to step down in 2013 and offered a new constitution giving more powers to parliament, but he has refused his critics’ main demand to quit immediately.

A string of Saleh’s allies have recently defected to the protesters, who are frustrated by rampant corruption and soaring unemployment. About 40 percent of the population live on US$2 a day or less in Yemen, and a third face chronic hunger.

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