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18 dead as Yemeni forces fire on protesters

Sunday September 18, 2011 11:41:31 PM, IANS

Sanaa: The deaths from an attack by the Yemeni government forces on protesters marching Sunday in the capital to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh's resignation have risen to 18, medics said, adding that the number of injured has risen to more than 100.

"As many as 18 protesters were confirmed killed by gunshots of pro-Saleh armed forces and more than 100 others were injured, most of whom were in critical conditions," a doctor working at a field hospital at the Changing Square near Sanaa University told Xinhua.

"The 18 were shot in the heads and necks," the doctors said, as the injured were still arriving at the hospital.

"Government forces backed by armed thugs hired by Saleh's ruling party intercepted the peaceful march in a street near the building of the General Authority of Electricity in Al-Zira'aa neighborhood and heavily fired live ammunition of various heavy weapons and tear gas on the protesters," an eyewitness named Hassan told Xinhua.

The armless protesters confronted the attack and set on fire two armoured vehicles of the government forces, Hassan and other eyewitnesses said.

A ruling party official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity "when the protesters arrived at the end of Al-Zira'aa Street, many of them stormed the government building of the General Authority of Electricity and set it on fire."

Several eyewitnesses, however, confirmed that "the ruling party's hired thugs were behind the attack against the electricity building, as well as another group of the thugs climbed onto the rooftop of the electricity building and opened heavy fire on the protesters."

Yemen has gripped by eight-month political crisis since the eruption of the protest in late January to demand an immediate end to the 33-year rule of Saleh.

Tensions have soared recently with heavy deployment of rival armed forces in the streets of Sanaa and other major provinces.

Saleh, who is still in Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation for injuries sustained in an attack on his palace in early June, issued a decree last week to authorize his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to sign the power-transition deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) after launching a dialogue with the opposition to set a timetable and a mechanism to transfer power.

Saleh's move is welcome by the United States, which said Thursday that "there were encouraging signs for the GCC deal to be accomplished within one week." The opposition, however, insists that Saleh should sign the deal before any dialogue is launched.



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