Sana’a, Feb 23 (IANS) At least two youths were shot dead by government supporters during a protest at a university in the capital city of Yemen, which is facing mass unrest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh for nearly two weeks.
The two young men were killed in a clash Tuesday night at Sana’a University, the New York Times reported quoting medical workers.
According to the medical workers, eight people were injured when government supporters opened fire on the protesters, who have been staging a sit-in in front of the university since Sunday.
About 2,000 protesters remained holed up at the university despite the shooting. They have vowed to stay until Saleh steps down.
According to witnesses, the clashes between the pro- and anti-government demonstrators started when the two sides began pelting stone amid the presence of security forces.
The security forces began shooting in the air to stop the clash, but then the pro-government demonstrators started to run toward the students, shooting automatic weapons and pistols. When the gunmen started shooting, the police ran away, witnesses said.
According to a government official, the anti-government protesters also fired at the government supporters, killing one and wounding over a dozen.
On Monday, a teenager was killed and four people were injured when security forces attacked pro-democracy protesters in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden.
According to media reports, 14 people have been killed in the unrest in Yemen since Thursday.
Yemenis, angered by corruption and unemployment in the country and inspired by the democratic revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, are demanding end of President Saleh’s 32-year-rule.
Saleh, in power since 1978, said Monday that only defeat at the ballot box will make him quit. Earlier, he said he would not run in the 2013 presidential election.
“If they want me to quit, I will only leave through the ballot box,” Saleh told a news conference as thousands of protesters, including opposition MPs, gathered outside Sana’a University to demand his departure.
Saleh, a US ally battling a resurgent Al Qaeda wing based in Yemen, faces soaring unemployment, dwindling oil and water reserves, and chronic unrest in northern and southern provinces.