Army kills 4 in northern Yemen protest
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Soldiers opened fire at anti-government protesters Friday in northern Yemen, killing four people and wounding seven as demonstrations against longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh again turned deadly.
Yemen has been rocked by weeks of daily anti-government protests, inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and tens of thousands turned out in cities across the country calling for the ouster of Mr. Saleh, a key U.S. ally in the campaign against the al Qaeda terror network. He has promised to step down after national elections in 2013, an offer rejected by protesters.
Witnesses said the shootings in the town of Harf Sofyan occurred as soldiers tried to disperse thousands who took to the main street for Friday prayers.
Soldiers in an army post opened fire with heavy machine guns, believing the protesters were trying to attack the post, according to the witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisal.
Protesters threw rocks at the troops and called for Saleh to step down, shouting: “Leave! Leave!”
The town, located in Amran province, is a significant base for the Hawthi Shiite tribesmens who have waged an on-and-off struggle against the government for the last six years.
In the capital of Sanaa, tens of thousands assembled near Sanaa University to urge Saleh’s ouster. Security forces watched the gathering closely, but it was not violent.
For the first time, the protesters included hundreds of women, filling a square and nearby streets.
In the southern city of Aden, tens of thousands of people carried the coffins of three people killed last week. Speakers at Friday prayers focused on the fall of the regime.
The main speaker during prayers at Sanaa University, Yahia Hussein al-Deilami, told the gathering that “deposing a tyrant is a religious duty.”
“This regime, a handful of corrupt officials, have encouraged bribes, corruption and plundering of the nation’s wealth,” he said.
“Ali, Ali before (the fall of) Moammar! Ali, Ali after Mubarak’s fall!”
Hundreds of thousands of protesters also demonstrated in Taiz, Hadramawt, Ibb and Hudaydah in what was dubbed as the “Friday of the national cohesion.”