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  • Date :
  • 3/13/2011

Yemen police storm protest site


At least two people were killed and more than 300 injured after Yemen security forces stormed a protest site where thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were camped out for weeks, demanding the ouster of the country's leader.

In a pre-dawn raid on Saturday police used tear gas and hot water mixed with gas to disperse the demonstrators, Al Jazeera reported.

Also on Saturday, a teenage boy was killed in separate clashes between security forces and protesters in the city of Mukala.

Also on Saturday, at least three students were injured when security forces opened fire at protesters in the city of Taiz, where residents had gathered to demand that Saleh be put on trial.

The clashes come after tens of thousands of protesters marched on the streets of the capital on Friday, drawing record crowds in a continuing push to demand the ouster of Saleh, who has been in power since 1978.

Protests, however, turned violent in the southern port city of Aden, where three people were wounded by gunfire and six overcome by tear gas as police tried to disperse the crowd.

A wave of unrest has weakened Saleh's decades-long grip on his impoverished nation, with about 30 people killed since January.

Meanwhile, a senior White House aide told Saleh on Friday that the United States, which provides substantial financial aid to Yemen, welcomed his steps to resolve the political crisis and urged opposition groups to heed calls for talks.

According to New York Times, during the clashes on Saturday, some protesters voiced anger at the suggestion that they should engage in dialogue with the authorities. Because Saleh’s sons and relatives control the armed forces, protesters view the attacks as directly coming from Saleh himself.

“The White House tells us to have dialogue, what is the use? It’s been 33 years” said Riyadh Al Selwy, a student holding an onion to his nose to ease the sting of tear gas, referring to Saleh’s decades in power. “We want democracy like you,” he told an American reporter.

Yemen is a crucial partner of the United States in the fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has plotted attacks against US targets from its bases in the country's tribal regions.

Yemen's president of 32 years appeared to be one of the Arab leaders most threatened by the regional unrest inspired by pro-democracy revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. Demonstrators are demanding jobs and greater political freedoms. Saleh has tried to calm protesters by proposing that the government create a new constitution guaranteeing the independence of parliament and the judiciary — but protesters have said it's too little, too late.

Photo: Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets on Friday. (Reuters photo

Source: tehrantimes.com

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