One protester killed, 50 injured in clashes in Yemen
One protester was killed and about 50 were injured Thursday in clashes between police and anti-regime protesters in Yemen's capital of Sanaa and southern port city of Aden, local sources told Xinhua.
Anti-riot policemen fired warning shots Thursday evening to break up a massive march of several thousands of anti-government protesters in Aden, killing one protester and injuring about 10.
"One anti-government demonstrator was killed by random warning shots of the police who tried to disperse the rallies in several districts of Aden, and at least 10 others were wounded during ongoing clashes with the soldiers," local councilman Ahmed Tahir told Xinhua.
This brought the death toll of protests in the country since Wednesday to three, after police's random gunfire killed Yaseen Askar, 19, and Mohammed Ali al-Alwani, a 17-year-old protester, during fierce clashes in Al-Mansoura district in Aden on Wednesday, according to medical sources.
In Sanaa, about 40 protesters were injured Thursday during clashes with pro-government backers wielding daggers and batons, said officials in the opposition coalition.
The clashes took place when more than 3,000 anti-government protesters, mostly students, gathered inside Sanaa University and marched to the south gate of the campus, where they clashed with pro-regime supporters.
Anti-riot policemen rushed to the scene in Al-Rubat street, trying to stop the clashes, and one policeman was seriously wounded, a police officer told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
A Xinhua correspondent said the armed government backers chased down the protesters as both sides threw stones against each other and police fired warning shots into the air.
Another several hundreds of anti-government protesters took to streets in provinces of Al-Bayda, Al-Hodayda, Taiz, Abyan, shouting slogans that called for the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, according to a security source of the Yemeni Interior Ministry.
Eyewitnesses said the angry protesters chanted slogans such as "The people want to overthrow the regime" and "After Mubarak, it's Ali's turn," referring to the president, who has been in power for over 30 years.
Saleh sacked the security director of Aden province Brigadier Abdullah Gairan Thursday due to the clashes in protests, and ordered Deputy Interior Minister Saleh al-Zawari to replace Gairan, a security source told Xinhua.
In a statement posted on the country's official news agency Saba Thursday, the Yemeni government accused foreign media of stirring up the political tension in the country.
"Foreign media's reports rely on false information and lack of balance and objectivity in covering events in Yemen, aiming at igniting a political tension that could harm the stability and security of Yemen," it said in the statement without naming any media.
"Such baseless reports also inflame the situation and encourage violence rather than promoting the reconciliation and national dialogue," it said.
The statement said the government will be committed to the dialogue with the opposition and will protect the democratic rights of the citizens in expressing their opinions and staging peaceful rallies.
Earlier Thursday, a group of clerics in Sanaa gathered at a conference, calling for forming a national unity government, which includes both the ruling party and opposition coalition, to save the country from chaos.
The clerics, including influential figures such as Sheikh Abdulmajid al-Zindany, head of Al-Eyman University and a prominent figure in the opposition Islah party, demanded the rival factions immediately form a transitional unity government to end the unrest in streets.
Saleh said earlier this month at a high-level emergency meeting that he would not seek re-election or pass power to his son. He also pledged to freeze all the controversial constitutional amendments that allow him to be president for life.
The embattled president also pledged to raise salaries of government employees and to provide 60,000 job opportunities for university graduates.
The current instability added extra troubles to Yemen, which was already undermined by a Shiite rebellion in the north, a growing separatist movement in the south and a resurgence of terrorist threats throughout the country.
Northern Shiite rebel commander Abdulmalik al-Houthi pledged in a statement posted on the Internet Tuesday to order his armed groups to support the Yemeni people against Saleh if the revolution breaks out.