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Five injured as Yemen protest movement gains momentum

Hundreds of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's supporters wielding, guns, daggers and batons charge thousands of anti-government protesters, most of them students hurling stones, outside Sanaa University.

SANAA// At least five people were injured yesterday in continuing daily clashes in Yemen between anti-government demonstrators and supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the capital Sanaa, amid increasing protests across the country.

The confrontation happened after hundreds of the ruling General People's Congress supporters wielding, guns, daggers and batons charged towards thousands of the anti-government demonstrators, most of them students hurling stones, outside Sanaa University.

Police who were attempting to separate the demonstrators soon disappeared in the back streets as the clashes intensified, with the anti-government supporters pushing back thousands of the opposing demonstrators.

Two of the five demonstrators were injured seriously, according to the protest organisers and medics.

A government vehicle was also set on fire by protesters who claimed they found a gun inside. They captured two of the armed government supporters and handed them over the security of the university, witnesses said. According to witnesses, the car drove close to the anti-government protest distributing pictures of Mr Saleh and carrying loudspeakers chanting pro-government slogans. While the vehicle was burning, thousands of the anti-government protesters shouted "God is great … after Mubarak, Ali," referring to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to step down earlier this month. Later, the ruling party website said the burnt vehicle belonged to a local citizen.

Dozens have been reported injured in similar clashes during the last 10 days.

More than a thousand students spent a second night yesterday camped at what they have dubbed as "Change Square" in front of Sanaa university campus. Committees in charge of medical services, media and for fundraising have been organised, similar to preparations that have been done in Taiz city where thousands have been staging a sit-in in the streets for the last 12 days.

These squares in Sanaa and Taiz have become the central meeting ground for people to raise their grievances with the government.

Ali Radman, 65, said as he walked through the protest yesterday in Sanaa: "I have come here from Arhab [tribal area outside Sanaa] to support the youths in their battle against this corrupt regime. I have lost much of life at courts, following my land case procedures. I lost it because I could not pay bribes to the judges. May God be with the youths."

In Taiz, thousands of teachers marched yesterday from the education office and called for the fall of the regime, according to Salah al Dakak, a protester. Mr al Dakak said the number of people gathering to protest is growing, particularly during the evenings when thousands of women bring their children with them. He said the number stood at about 50,000 on Monday evening at the square, where more tents have been added, streets blocked, and two large TV screens have been set up.

Thousands of protesters also took to the streets in several provinces including Aden, Hodiedah, Ibb and al Baidah, demanding Mr Saleh step down.

Mr Saleh, in power for 32 years, said during a news conference on Monday that he would only quit if defeated in an election.

In Aden, there are conflicting reports of how many people have been killed in the area since February 16. Media reports put the toll at 12 dead and dozens injured but the interior ministry yesterday put the death toll at four, according to the official Saba news agency.

A tribal leader in the country's north said yesterday that tens of thousands also demonstrated in the group's stronghold of Saada to demand the president step down.

malqadhi@thenational.ae

 

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