At least 84 wounded in new Yemen clashes - activists

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:26 AM
At least 84 wounded in new Yemen clashes - activists

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni security forces used live fire and tear gas on Thursday on protesters demanding an end to the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, wounding at least 84, activists said.

Protesters in the southern city of Taiz said 80 people were hit while four were reported wounded in the capital Sanaa when police opened live fire and let off tear gas.

The Arabian Peninsula state, neighbor to oil giant Saudi Arabia, has been hit by weeks of protests trying to shake loose Saleh's 32-year grip on power.

The United States, which has long seen Saleh as a bulwark against an active al Qaeda wing based in Yemen, has condemned the bloodshed and backed the right to peaceful protest. But it has also insisted only dialogue can end the political crisis.

The government website September 26 said three militants suspected of links to al Qaeda were killed when they tried to attack a military checkpoint on Thursday in Marib province.

Also on Thursday, security forces said they had arrested a suspected al Qaeda member responsible for information, Khaled Batarfy, in Taiz together with one other member of the group.

Both pro- and anti-government factions appear to have increasingly resorted to violence, but activists said protesters had not used force in the latest demonstrations.

Some 150 people were wounded on Wednesday when security forces tried to break up a rally in the Red Sea city of Hudaida.

Yemen's rial has fallen up to almost 8 percent against the dollar in the past week as unrest takes a toll on the poor Arab country's economy, traders said late on Wednesday.

The central bank has slapped unspecified penalties on 10 currency exchanges and other firms for dealing in dollars above the official rate of about 214 rials.

(Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari; editing by Philippa Fletcher)