6th day of unrest in Yemen; more protests in Libya and Bahrain
Wednesday, February 16, 2011; 10:20 AM
SANAA, YEMEN - Hundreds of protesters demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh took to the streets for a sixth straight day Wednesday, and anti-government protesters in Libya called for the ouster of longtime ruler Moammar Gaddafi.
Demonstrations spread to the southern Yemeni cities of Aden and Taiz, and thousands also continued to clamor for democratic reforms in Bahrain, as the seismic effects of the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia continued to ripple from Africa to the Persian Gulf.
Hundreds of Libyans clashed with security forces in Benghazi, the country's second-largest city. Most were demanding that Gaddafi step down, according to the Associated Press.
"No God but Allah, Moammar is the enemy of Allah," protesters chanted. Others cried out, "Down, down to corruption and to the corrupt."
Police and pro-government groups swiftly clamped down on the demonstrators, who - like their counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia - have used Facebook and Twitter to rally people to their cause. A major demonstration is planned for Thursday, according to AP.
In Bahrain, thousands of people spent the night in a makeshift tent camp in Manama's Pearl Square. It was the third day of the Egyptian-style occupation of the capital's landmark plaza.
Two Bahrainis have been killed so far in protest-related violence. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa promised in a rare address on national television Tuesday to investigate the deaths and enact democratic reforms. After initially maintaining a heavy presence at the demonstrations, police have pulled back sharply, apparently in hopes of lowering tensions.
Protesters are calling for a new constitution and more freedoms. The nation's majority Shiites have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the ruling Sunni elite. Last year, a crackdown triggered weeks of riots and clashes in Shiite villages, underscoring the potential for unrest in one of the Middle East's wealthiest countries.
Here in the Yemeni capital, hundreds of police officers tried to block students and activists at Sanaa University from joining demonstrators marching through the capital on Wednesday. Some police fired shots in the air to try and disperse the crowds.
Pro-government mobs, wielding daggers and batons, chased away groups of students. But some students later managed to leave the campus - the epicenter of the protests until now - and join other demonstrators in the streets.
About 500 protesters gathered in Aden, with a similar number in Taiz, Reuters reported. Resentment against the government has boiled for months in both cities. "No more marginalization of the people of Aden! No more corruption and oppression," chanted protesters in Aden.
A young protester was reported killed and four others injured in clashes with security forces, according to local news reports. In retaliation, protesters raided a local council government complex.