Yemen rivals exchange gunfire

Pro- and anti-government supporters clash in capital Sanaa as protests against President Saleh enter 10th day.

    Protesters' main grievances include poverty and alleged government corruption

    Several anti-government protesters have been injured in clashes with supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a day after five people died in protests against his 32-year rule.

    It included one protester who was shot in the neck, witnesses said. Doctors at the hospital where he was taken said he was in a stable condition.

    At one stage both sides fired pistols and assault rifles - the first reported use of firearms by demonstrators,the Reuters news agency reported.

    Four other Saleh opponents were wounded by gunfire, two of them seriously, and three were wounded when
    demonstrators threw stones at each other outside the university.

    Around 1,000 anti-Saleh demonstrators chanted "Leave! Leave!" and "The people want the fall of the regime!",  Between 200 and 300 Saleh supporters called for dialogue.

    Saturday was the 10th straight day of protests in Yemen inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Demonstrators are calling for the ouster of Saleh - a key US ally in fighting al-Qaeda.

    In a concession to protesters, the president has promised to step down when his term ends in 2013 and not to hand power to his son.

    A coalition of opposition parties has agreed to talk to him, but protests have continued.

    In south Yemen, where resentment of rule from Sanaa runs high, dozens of men used their cars in the town of Karish to block the main road between Taiz and the southern port city of Aden, shouting for "the fall of the regime", residents said.

    'No to opppression'

    In Aden as many as 400 protesters staged a peaceful sit-in, holding banners saying: "No to oppression. No to corruption".

    The local council of Sheikh Othman, a directorate in Aden, said in a statement it resigned in protest at the use of live
    bullets by security forces against protesters which led to deaths and injuries in the city on Friday.

    In Sanaa, the editor of the defence ministry newspaper was wounded when he was beaten and stabbed by anti-government protesters, a government official told Reuters.

    On Friday, security forces and pro-government loyalists clashed in several cities with crowds demanding Saleh step down.

    Doctors said four people died from gunfire in Aden and one was killed by a grenade in Taiz, Yemen's second city.

    "Although the crowds are smaller in number compared to what happens in different countries, the hostile and fearful mood setting over the last 48 hours may spark more violence," Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Sanaa, said on Friday. 

    "The fear here is that if events reach a tipping point, armed tribes may raid the capital and this is why people are worried about bloody confrontations."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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