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20 killed as violence spirals in Yemen

Officials blame 'Muslim Brotherhood attempting to free criminals from prisons' for the deaths

Gulf News

Dubai: At least 20 people were killed and 200 injured in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz in the past 24 hours. Officials blamed the "Muslim Brotherhood attempting to free criminals from prisons" for the deaths.

"They attacked the state institutions and attempted to release criminals in a violent manner when the authorities stopped them," Ahmad Al Sufi, spokesperson for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, told Gulf News.

However, Bushra Al Maktari, a protest organiser, was quoted as saying the security forces used bulldozers to destroy the tents of activists camped out in "Freedom Square" to demand the release of six protesters who were detained on May 26.

Tents set ablaze

Republican Guard soldiers along with security forces and armed men in civilian clothes attacked the protesters. Some set fire to dozens of tents used by protesters occupying the square for weeks, and bulldozers ran over hundreds of other tents without checking whether anyone was still inside, two witnesses were quoted as saying.

"There will be negative consequences for what happened in Taiz," Mohammad Al Mutawakil, a leader of the Joint Meeting Parties, the six-party opposition coalition, was quoted as saying.

Yemeni warplanes, in another sign of escalating violence, carried out air strikes Monday on the southern town of Zinjibar, which officials said was seized by Al Qaida.

Fighter jets also fired on the southern outskirts of the town, and loud explosions were followed by rising columns of smoke, Ali Dahmas, a resident, told a news agency by phone.

— With additional inputs from agencies