Yemeni security forces and loyalists of embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh have shot dead two protesters and wounded scores in separate demonstrations, medics and witnesses say.
“Security forces shot dead a protester and wounded 30 others, eight of them by live rounds,” a medical source in Ibb, south of Sanaa, told AFP.
At least 30 others needed treatment for tear gas inhalation, witnesses said.
In the southeastern province of Al-Baida, gunmen “belonging to the ruling party” opened fire at a sit-in, killing one protester, according to a witness.
Another witness identified the victim as Salem Abdullah.
In Taez south of the capital, police and “gunmen in civilian clothes” opened fire with live rounds and tear gas, wounding 50 protesters, 25 with bullets, and leaving at least 250 suffering from breathing problems, witnesses said.
They said hundreds of thousands of people had gathered in the flashpoint city to pressure Saleh to step down immediately despite a US-backed Gulf plan for a transition of power.
The protesters, who have been demonstrating across Yemen since late January, rallied against a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plan under which Saleh would quit in 30 days with immunity from prosecution.
“No rest, no respite for the executioner,” they shouted.
The witnesses said security forces erected concrete barriers to block roads leading to the Taez governor’s office and also deployed armoured vehicles.
In Sanaa, where demonstrators calling for Saleh’s ouster have staged a sit-in at a square since February, thousands of teachers – both men and women – marched on the education ministry.
“No studying, no teaching until the downfall of the president,” they chanted.
Witnesses said thousands of people also protested in Mukalla in southeast Yemen and in the Red Sea city of Al-Hudaydah. However, no clashes were reported in Sanaa or the other two cities.
Residents in Al-Hudaydah said troops from the Republican Guard, which is headed by Saleh’s son Ahmed, surrounded the local air base of a dissident unit led by General Ahmed al-Sanhani.
Anti-Saleh protests, in which more than 130 people have been killed since January, have led to defections and clashes within the army. But the Republican Guard has remained loyal to Saleh.
The latest flare-up of violence came as the US urged a peaceful transition after Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress said on Saturday it accepted the GCC transition plan drawn up by Yemen’s oil-rich Gulf neighbours.
But demonstrators yesterday carried banners reading “No negotiations, no dialogue.”
They also held Bahraini flags in a show of solidarity with pro-democracy demonstrators in the kingdom, who were the target of a bloody crackdown by security forces in mid-March. Agencies