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Middle East
Yemeni protesters demand VP's resignation
Tens of thousands rallying against protester deaths, accuse vice president of failing to bring killers to justice.
Last Modified: 25 Dec 2011 17:39
At least 13 protesters from "March for Life" were killed Saturday when forces opened fire [AFP]

Tens of thousands of people have deomonstrated in the Yemeni capital Sanaa against the deaths of protesters, calling for the vice president's resignation for failing to bring the killers to justice.

Marching past the office of vice president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the country's defacto leader after the signing of a deal to ease President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office, the protesters denounced him as "tool in the hands" of the outgoing president.

Security forces killed 13 people in an attack on tens of thousands of protesters peacefully marching into the capital on Saturday.

"Thirteen people were killed and 50 others were wounded by live rounds," a medical official said.

The medic from a field hospital in the capital said that 150 other people suffered from breathing difficulties due to tear gas inhalation.

Rallying to pressure the government not to give Saleh immunity from prosecution, the demonstrators set off from the southern city of Taiz on Tuesday for the march to the capital.

Upon their arrival in Sanaa in mid-afternoon on Saturday, forces of the elite Republican Guard fired on them with automatic weapons, tear gas and water cannons, sparking hours of clashes.

Saleh travels

A defence ministry website cited an unidentified official denying the military - key units of which are led by Saleh's son and nephew - played any role in the killing of the protesters.

On Saturday, Saleh said he would go to the United States in order to allow an interim government to prepare for an election to replace him, but did not specify when he would leave.

Speaking to reporters hours after forces loyal to him had opened fired at protesters, he said he had no designs on staying in power.

"I will go to the United States. Not for treatment, because I'm fine, but to get away from attention, cameras, and allow the unity government to prepare properly for elections," he said on Saturday.

"I'll be there for several days, but I'll return because I won't leave my people and comrades who have been steadfast for 11 months," he said. "I'll withdraw from political work and go into the street as part of the opposition."

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