Protesters, Police Clash In Yemen After Massive Protests

Apr 18, 2011

Clashes between the forces of president Ali Abdullah Saleh and protesters calling for his ouster continue today in Yemen. Reuters reports that in the Red Sea port city of al-Hudaydah, 88 people were wounded by shots fired by plainclothes police:

A first round of clashes hurt 15 people, two were shot and the others were beaten or hit with stones, doctors said, and protesters began to withdraw back to their camp.

But clashes erupted again as riot police fired shots and tear gas at a group of protesters, witnesses said. Protesters responded by marching out of their camp again, this time headed for Hudaida's main thoroughfare, residents told Reuters.

Voice of America, the official broadcasting service of the United States government, reports that 45 have been hurt in demonstrations in the capital city of Sanaa.

Yesterday, opposition leaders met with the Gulf Cooperation Council in Saudi Arabia. The meeting was to craft a plan that would end the unrest. But, Businessweek reports, the opposition has rejected the plan, which called for Saleh to hand over power to Vice President Abduraboo Mansur Hadi:

"We are sticking to our position," Mohammed Salem Basendwah, head of the opposition Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue, told reporters in the Saudi capital after the meeting. Yemen's six-party opposition coalition, the Joint Meetings Party, wants Saleh to step down immediately.

Just before the meeting, yesterday, the BBC reported that hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Yemen to call for the ouster of Saleh, who's been in power for 32 years.

Citing witnesses, the BBC said that in Sanaa authorities opened fire on the crowd with live ammunition. This video from the Telegraph shows protestors being dispersed by water canons:

The number of people injured from yesterday's protests is still unclear. Quoting doctors, the BBC reports "dozens" were injured. The AP puts that number at 30. The AFP reports that "there are 1,000 suffocation cases because of tear gas and 30 injured by live rounds."

The AP reports that Saleh's administration received another blow, today:

In the capital Sanaa, several top figures and lawmakers — many of them defectors from Saleh's ruling Congress Party — set up their own bloc, entitled "Justice and Construction Bloc" and issued a statement insisting that Saleh relinquish power.

... The group said it would strive to "establish a civil society based on democracy, peaceful transfer of power and respect of others."

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