Thousands rally day after clashes in Yemen capital

By Amhed Al-Haj
Thursday, February 24, 2011

SANAA, YEMEN - Thousands streamed into a square in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on Wednesday, trying to bolster anti-government demonstrators after club-wielding backers of President Ali Abdullah Saleh tried to drive them out.

One person was killed and at least 12 wounded in the clashes late Tuesday near Sanaa University, medics said. A local human rights group and Amnesty International gave a higher toll, saying two people were killed and 18 hurt.

"This disturbing development indicates that the heavy-handed tactics which we have seen the security forces using with lethal effect against protesters in the south of Yemen are increasingly being employed elsewhere," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa. "If the authorities continue in this manner, more demonstrators will inevitably be killed."

Seven legislators resigned from Saleh's ruling General People's Congress party because of the situation in the country and said they will form an independent bloc, according to a member of parliament, Abdul-Aziz Jabbari. The resignations raise to nine the number of legislators who have left the party since protests began.

In the Red Sea port of Hodeida, Saleh supporters attacked a group of anti-government demonstrators, injuring at least 10, according to activists who were in the protest.

Security forces in the southern port of Aden used tear gas and fired bullets in the air to disperse hundreds of protesters, officials said.

The U.S.-backed Saleh, in power for 32 years, has said that he will step down after national elections are held in 2013. But a widening protest movement, inspired by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, is demanding that he leave office now.

- Associated Press

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