The Yemeni government has escalated its efforts to stop mass protests calling for the president’s ouster, with soldiers firing rubber bullets and tear gas at students camped at a university in the capital in a raid that left at least 98 people wounded, officials said.
The army stormed the Sanaa University campus hours after thousands of inmates rioted at the central prison in the capital, taking a dozen guards hostage and calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. At least one prisoner was killed and 80 people were wounded as the guards fought to control the situation, police said.
Yemen has been rocked by weeks of protests against Saleh, inspired by recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia that drove out those nations’ leaders. Saleh, a key US ally in the campaign against al-Qaeda, has been in power 32 years. In a sign that the protests are gaining traction, graffiti calling for Saleh to step down surfaced today in his birthplace, village of Sanhan, for the first time since the protests began.
Students at Sanaa University have been sleeping on campus since mid-February, shortly after the start of the protests calling for the country’s president to step down.
Medical officials said many of the 98 people wounded were in serious condition. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to release the information. Witnesses reported seeing armoured vehicles and personnel carriers headed to the area of the university.
“It’s a massacre,” said opposition spokesman Muhammad Qahtan. “It is a crime by security troops against students engaged in a peaceful sit-in.”
Demonstrations also continued elsewhere in the country. In the southern port city of Aden, a crowd of women joined a demonstration after a young protester was shot in the head and critically wounded during a rally there the previous day.
Tens of thousands took to the streets in the Ibb province, calling on the government to bring to justice those responsible for a deadly attack there Sunday.
Opposition activists blamed “government thugs” who descended on protesters camped out on a main square. One person was killed in that violence and 53 people were hurt. Agencies