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Yemen forces attack protesters in bid to halt march

Thousands of people converge on the capital Sana'a after four-day trek from Taez city

  • Reuters
  • Published: 00:00 December 25, 2011
  • Gulf News

Anti-government protesters march
  • Image Credit: EPA
  • Anti-government protesters march a distance of 270 kilometres to demand the trial of outgoing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, at a highway in the southern suburbs of Sana’a.

Sana'a: Yemen's powerful Republican Guard forces are firing rifles and using tear gas and water cannons to attack a march by 100,000 protesters demanding the president be put on trial.

The forces are commanded by President Ali Abdullah Saleh's son. They attacked the protesters as they converged on the capital after a four-day march from a southern city.

One of the organisers, Abdul Nasser Al Kamali, said 30 people were injured in yesterday's attack. He said tens of thousands of other regime opponents from inside the capital joined the demonstration.

Participants, in what has been dubbed the March of Life, followed a 270-kilometre route from the city of Taez, a centre of the opposition.

They were objecting to a deal under which Saleh would step down in return for immunity from prosecution.

Shots rang out as the activists entered the city chanting "No to immunity", at the climax of a mass march that started days earlier in the southern city of Taez, residents said.

Blockade

The agreement, crafted by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), was designed to ease Saleh out of power and avert civil war in a country that has seen a growing infiltration from Al Qaida and sits next to key oil shipping lanes. Witnesses said troops loyal to Saleh spread out across the entrances of streets leading to his compound to block any attempt by protesters to approach it.

Pro-Saleh troops also used tear gas in an attempt to turn back protesters in the Sabaeen district of the capital, the witnesses said.

Tanks, troops and armoured vehicles were deployed around the presidential compound.

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