SANAA (Reuters) - Shi'ite Muslim rebels in northern Yemen said the military fired rockets at their anti-government protests on Friday and killed two, as protests spread and intensify across the impoverished Arab Nation.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a U.S. ally against a resurgent wing of al Qaeda, is struggling to quell daily protests that have swept across the country demanding he step down after 32 years ruling Yemen.
"During a peaceful protest this Friday morning ... demanding the fall of the regime, an end to corruption and political change, a military site fired rockets at a group of protesters and hit dozens of people," a statement from the rebels said.
A spokesman for the rebels told Reuters that thousands had taken to the streets of Harf Sufyan protests when they were hit by rockets from an army base located inside the northern city.
He said at least two were dead and seven wounded.
Yemen's cash-strapped government agreed a truce with the rebels in February 2009 to halt a war that had raged on and off since 2004. The uneasy ceasefire had largely held, though sporadic violence persists.
The rebels, known as Houthis after their leader Abdel Malek al-Houthi, complain of discrimination by the government and announced their support for anti-government protests in early February.
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Mohamed Sudam; Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Jon Hemming)