Yemen protesters clash with police, two killed

Updated: 2011-04-04 08:40


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Yemen protesters clash with police, two killed

A protester with a burning banner is seen during clashes with police in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz, April 3, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

SANAA - At least two Yemeni protesters were killed and up to 900 others wounded, including eight policemen, on Sunday in clashes with police forces and government supporters in the Yemeni southern provinces of Taiz, said medics.

The clashes erupted when the police opened live ammunition and tear gas to prevent thousands of anti-government protesters from advancing towards the provincial government buildings in Taiz, which killed one protester and injured up to 900 others, local doctors said.

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Taiz governor Hamoud Khaled al-Soufi denied the killing of the protester, but admitted that hundreds of people were wounded by rocks and batons, including eight policemen, according to official Saba news agency.

Al-Soufi said that there were no more clashes in the streets, adding that one of the eight injured policemen is in critical condition.

Earlier the day, witnesses told Xinhua News Agency that about ten protesters were hit by bullets and more than 100 protesters were suffering from suffocation and breathing difficulties from tear gas as the rest were seriously injured by batons and rocks from government supporters in Taiz.

The clashes took place after thousands of protesters moved from their sit-in square at downtown Taiz towards the provincial government buildings in a march, which was confronted by government backers and police forces.

"People want to overthrow the regime," the protesters shouted during their march.

Yemen has witnessed daily demonstrations demanding an immediate end to the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh since mid February, but Saleh insisted to stay in power.

Saleh on Sunday met with hundreds of his supporters from Taiz. In the meeting, he delivered a response to the opposition's latest initiative, telling them to give up street protest sit-ins, stop blocking roads and end assassinations if they want him to transfer power peacefully, according to Saba.

"If the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) ends street protest sit-ins, stops blocking roads, ends assassination operations and lifts rebellion situations inside some of the military units, then we will be ready to discuss the process of transferring power peacefully," Saba quoted Saleh as saying.

Saleh's brief response came a day after the opposition JMP offered him a fresh initiative they dubbed it as a "last chance" for Saleh to peacefully move the power to his deputy.

In their new initiative they issued late on Saturday, the JMP proposed five-point terms, under which the power will be transferred peacefully from President Saleh to Vice President Abdal-Rab Mansur Al-Hadii, who is a member of Saleh's ruling General People's Congress party.

They also stipulated that the temporary president would then restructure National Security Agency, the Central Security Forces and the Republican Guards Forces.

They proposed to form a transitional national council, rewrite the constitution and form a temporary national unity government led by opposition in order to work with the interim president to fix the financial and economic problems in the country.

"Any attempt made by us is to restore the political process to its normal path, to find a safe exit for transferring the power and meet the demands of the people, but the supporters of the regime used the country's resources to twist the fact and appealed to force and violence under the umbrella of popular support," the JMP said in the statement.

Scores of government officials, diplomats and security and military forces have recently defected from the government and joined the protesters after the March 18 shootings that killed 52 protesters.

Opposition spokesman Mohamed Qahtan said that "the JMP's offer is the last chance for Saleh to smoothly leave and peacefully pass the power to his deputy, whom the president described as the safe hands."

"If Saleh rejected such a proposal for him, he would then receive the hard decision from the youth-led street protesters," Qahtan added.

Elsewhere, in southern province of Lahj, anti-government separatist militants raided military checkpoints on Sunday, killing at least two soldier and injuring five others on Sunday, an official of the Interior Ministry told Xinhua on anonymity.

The official said the gunmen of the separatist Southern Movement raided several military checkpoints in Milah district of Lahj as a large rally demanding the President Saleh to leave power immediately was simultaneously held in the same district of Milah and Radfan city.

He added that anti-government rally was also reported in Aden, Al-Hodayda, Hadramout, Al-Bayda, Ibb, Marib and the capital Sanaa.


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