Yemeni police fire on protesters in port city

AP News
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Posted: Apr 29, 2011 11:15 AM
Yemeni police fire on protesters in port city

Yemeni plainclothes police opened fire Friday on protesters calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster in a western port city, while hundreds of thousands poured onto the streets of the capital to mourn protesters slain in the crackdown.

Five protesters were wounded in the shooting in Hodeida on the Red Sea, and both sides then hurled stones at each other, witnesses said.

Saleh, who has ruled over Yemen for 32 years, has refused to step down. More than two months of massive protests and defections by military commanders, ruling party members and other one-time allies have left him clinging to power with the help of loyal military units commanded by one of his sons and other relatives.

Saleh's opponents dubbed the day's protests the "Friday of martyrs" to remember the more than 140 people killed in the government's crackdown.

As the violence has picked up, diplomatic efforts by Arab nations to end the crisis appear to be foundering. A six-nation bloc of Gulf nations is trying to broker a deal for Saleh to hand power to his deputy in exchange for immunity from prosecution for him and his sons.

While Yemen's established opposition political parties have tentatively accepted the deal, the activists in the streets are rejecting it, insisting that the president and his sons be prosecuted for the killings of protesters and corruption.

In the capital, Sanaa, on Friday, protesters filled a five-mile (eight-kilometer) section of Sitteen Street, a main boulevard on the city's western edge.

It was the biggest rally in the capital since the protests began.

During a Muslim prayer service in the capital, an imam read out a list of the those killed in the protests, punctuated by female protesters ululating.

"Enough blood, enough killing, just leave, leave, leave," the imam said during the sermon. "You have to submit to the people's demands."

Meanwhile, Saleh supporters rallied outside the presidential palace, as they do each Friday. Some waved his portrait in the air.

Addressing the crowd, the president labeled his opponents "traitors and agents" and led a chant of "Yes to constitutional legitimacy; no to coups."

Protests took place in at least 19 provinces around the country, according to a statement from the youth protest movement.