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Saleh supporters hurl rocks and bottles as women rally for Nobel winner Karman

An all-female street celebration to honour Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawwakol Karman saw 40 women injured when they were attacked by supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

SANAA // Forty women were injured when regime supporters attacked an all-female street celebration to honour Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawwakol Karman, medical officials said yesterday.

The women were attacked on Sunday evening in Taiz as they marched in support of Ms Karman, a Yemeni activist and the first Arab woman to win the award. Women also marched in Shabwa and Sanaa.

Medics said most of the women in Taiz were injured when they were hit by rocks and glass bottles. Others were said to have been hit by batons.

Ms Karman condemned the attacks and called on the international community to take action against President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his government.

"I say to the Saleh family that Taiz women who are calling for freedom will succeed and will be part of the new Yemen while you stand on trial," Ms Karman said yesterday. Yasser Al Nusari, a member of the Taiz opposition and a medic who took part in the protest, said six women were admitted to hospital for their injuries.

"Nowhere are females attacked by a government; only in Yemen," Ms Al Nusari said.

Witnesses said government security forces watched but did not interfere with the march that attracted about 50,000 women.

Afnan Al Yousifi, who was hit in the shoulder by a rock, said the violence would not deter her from protesting against Mr Saleh's government.

"Hundreds of innocent people were killed by this government and its supporters. We cannot stop now.

"We will continue under all circumstances until Saleh and his family are sent packing," said Ms Al Yousifi.

Yesterday, large protests were held in cities across Yemen to condemn the attack on the women.

In Taiz, more than 400,000 people gathered at Thawra Hospital, raising banners in support of the women demonstrators. Nine people were injured, including three women.

The opposition party media office in Taiz said that security forces shot near the crowd in an attempt to disperse it.

"How degrading can it get for a government to not only attack unarmed protesters, but unarmed females," said Malika Noman, an activist in Taiz.

She said that since January, more than 170 females were injured by attacks led by the government.

Marches have become a regular event during the past month in Yemen, after seven months of protest camps calling for an end to Mr Saleh's 33-year rule.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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