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Middle East
Yemeni forces open fire on protesters
At least ten people dead as Yemeni security forces quell protests in cities across the country.
Last Modified: 12 May 2011 08:54

At least ten people protesting the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, have been killed and 226 injured after security forces opened fire on thousands of anti-government demonstrations in several cities across the country.

In the capital Sanaa, forces fired on a crowd of tens of thousands marching to the cabinet building, and the interior ministry said that protesters attempted to "storm the radio (building)".

At least six demonstrators died, and about 100 were wounded, according to a doctor co-ordinating a makeshift clinic for wounded protesters.

The doctor, who wished to remain anonymous, said the number of the dead could rise.

"The snipers were shooting at the people," Talal al-Hamadi, a protester, said. "People rushed and some fell over each other. There was a stampede."

Cities paralysed

In the industrial centre of Taiz, snipers killed two protesters and dozens were injured by gunfire, tear gas and bat-wielding plainclothes security men.

Demonstrators stormed the police station where gunfire originated, killing one protester, activist Ghazi al-Samai said.

Samai said protesters seized an officer whom they accused of shooting the fatal bullet and handed him over to the prosecutor's office.

He said protesters then started setting tyres on fire in many streets and took control of three government buildings, including the oil ministry.

Residents said the city of 540,000 people was in effect paralysed.

"Stores are closed and the streets are completely empty of pedestrians, only protesters are around in the areas they are confronting [security forces]," Taiz resident Wajdi Abdullah said

In the Red Sea port city of Hudaida, one protester was killed when security forces opened fire after marchers tried to force their way into a government building, witnesses said.

Another protester was killed by police in Dhamar, 100km south of Sanaa, as security forces opened fire on a demonstration, medics and witnesses told the AFP news agency.

In Ibb, also south of the capital, hundreds of protesters surrounded provincial offices.

"Almost all the stores are shut in Ibb except a few selling basic food items. No one is going to work - this is unprecedented in this city," said resident Ali Noaman.

In the southern city of Aden, demonstrators set fire to tyres in the streets as the city was paralysed by civil disobedience called by the opposition.

Similar demonstrations took place in Hadramawt.

Economic hardship

Yemen's economy is struggling as its currency falls against the dollar and the prices of basic necessities continue to rise.

Residents in remote areas are also suffering severe water shortages because fuel rationing has stopped trucks from carrying water shipments they depend on.

Yemen has seen three months of daily protests by demonstrators who are frustrated by Saleh's reluctance to relinquish his power.

In office for more than three decades, Saleh has intensified his crackdown on the protests and refused a regional mediation offer.

More than 140 people are reported to have been killed in the government crackdown on the escalating protests.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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