Governments Open Fire In Syria And Yemen During New Round Of Protests

May 11, 2011

Another day of protests has turned violent in both Syria and Yemen. Korva touched on Syria this morning, but the extent of the government action is coming into focus.

Human rights activists told The Wall Street Journal that at least 20 people are dead after the government shelled Bab Amro near the center of Homs and government tanks attacked a town near Deraa:

The week's stepped-up assaults show that the government of Bashar al-Assad has embraced the violent strategy that other regimes — including Iran, Libya and Bahrain — have employed to clamp down on the pro-democracy movements. That puts the Assad regime —primarily Alawite, one of several large minorities in Sunni-majority Syria — at risk of further isolation from the international community.

One resident of Homs told the BBC that the shelling lasted for three hours. Now, the man said, the town is "surrounded. There is no way for the wounded people to go out to the hospital."

In Yemen, where president Ali Abdullah Saleh has offered to end his more than 30-year rule, authorities opened fired on thousands of protesters. The Guardian's Tom Finn, who is in the capital city of Sanaa, reports that as protesters made their way toward the Ministerial Council headquarters, uniformed men opened fire:

So far two teenagers have been killed and around 60 people — among them women and children — have sustained bullet wounds.

There was some confusion at first as to who the troops actually belonged to: protesters said they were wearing uniforms similar to those of soldiers loyal to the renegade general [Ali Mohsen], who have until now been guarding the protest camp at Change Square.

Among those injured is female activist Bushra Al-Surabi, who is suffering from a bullet wound to the leg.

The march was part of new efforts by Sana'a protesters to put more pressure on President Saleh. Other measures include blocking roads and carrying out acts of civil disobedience.

It's hard to know for sure who is doing the shooting here, because General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar has broken from Saleh and has pledged his allegiance to the protesters. That his forces would be doing the shooting would be odd.

NPR's Andy Carvin, who's been covering the protests on Twitter, points us to live coverage from SuhailTV, an independent news source from Yemen. Be warned, the images are graphic, but they also show that the number of people hurt is significant. Images from hospitals in Sanaa show dozens of people being treated for bullet wounds. At one point during their live coverage, they showed images of a man with a bloodied eye. Just as doctors put on an oxygen mask, he sat up from his gurney and flashed a victory sign for the camera. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit