Last updated: 6 October, 2011

Yemen security forces open fire on protesters

Yemeni security forces wounded eight people in the southwest city of Taez on Thursday when they opened fire to disperse a protest calling for the regime’s ouster, a medic and witnesses said, after clashes rocked the capital.

“Eight people were wounded, one of them seriously,” a medic at a Taez field hospital told AFP.

Police in Yemen’s second largest city fired live rounds at protesters who were denouncing a bombardment on Tuesday in which seven people were killed and 145 hurt, witnesses said.

The protesters also called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since 1978, to be brought to justice.

Following the crackdown in Taez, tens of thousands of Yemenis marched in a show of solidarity to Sanaa’s northern Al-Hasaba district, the site of clashes between government troops and dissident tribesmen.

“The people want to bring the slaughterer to justice,” they chanted. “All of us are Taez.”

Meanwhile, in restive southern Abyan province, two children were killed while playing with unexploded ordinance, which blew up near their home, local officials told AFP.

The four-year-old girl and seven-year-old boy were killed in the provincial capital Zinjibar, the site of fierce battles between government troops and Al-Qaeda linked militants who overran the town in May.

Medical officials in the nearby town of Jaar confirmed the deaths.

In Sanaa, fresh fighting broke out late on Wednesday between government troops and gunmen loyal to opposition tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar in Al-Hasaba, witnesses said.

The two sides traded machine-gun and mortar fire for approximately two hours late at night, the witnesses said.

The exchanges were being directed from Ahmar’s home on the one side and the nearby interior ministry on the other, they said.

Sheikh Sadiq’s office told AFP Saleh’s forces “fired mortar shells” on his house.

No casualties were immediately reported.

The two sides first clashed in May, after Saleh refused to sign a Gulf-brokered plan under which he would step down in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his family.

Those clashes, in which 300 people died, came to a halt when Saleh was wounded in a bomb attack on his palace on June 3 after which he was flown to Riyadh for treatment.

In September, fighting between rival army units spread across the capital prompting renewed battles between the tribesmen and government forces in Al-Hasaba.

The situation calmed again when Saleh, still refusing to relinquish power, returned to Yemen on September 23.

The 69-year-old president is under growing domestic and international pressure to step down, as anti-regime protests in Yemen entered their 10th month.