Friday, March 25, 2011

Clashes injure three in Yemen

A Yemeni soldier chants slogans as anti-government protesters hold him high during a demonstration against President Saleh on March 24, 2011 in Sana'a.

Source: Press TV

At least three people have been injured in Yemen as army units backing opposition groups have clashed with guards loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southeastern town of Mukalla.

The unrest comes as several of the country's senior army commanders, ambassadors and tribal leaders have abandoned Saleh's camp and joined the anti-government protesters.

Yemen's opposition groups have called for mass protests on Friday. The opposition urged demonstrators to march on Saleh's palace to demand he steps down.

Saleh has countered their calls by urging his supporters to hold a rally in the capital's Taghyeer Square near his presidential palace on Friday.

The square was heavily guarded on Thursday by government forces to prevent any demonstrations.

"We are determined to preserve the security, independence and stability of Yemen by all possible means,” Saleh stated on state television.

He added that military officers and soldiers who defected to the opposition were "stupid" and urged them to “return to reason.”

Meanwhile Yemen's parliament has approved a law imposing a 30-day state of emergency. The law suspends the constitution, bars street protests, allows media censorship and gives security forces 30 days of far-reaching powers to arrest and detain suspects without judicial process.

The law has angered the country's opposition, who dispute the legality of the move. They say its adoption was a virtual certainty, as Saleh's ruling party dominates the 301-seat legislature.

Since the beginning of anti-Saleh demonstrations, nearly 100 protesters have been killed and many others injured during clashes with security forces and supporters of Saleh.

Last Friday saw the worst of the violence when snipers, who fired down from rooftops upon peaceful protesters, killed 52 people. The massacre sparked the resignation of a number of ministers and high-ranking officials.

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