Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous Post | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next Post »

YEMEN: Protesters attacked by government supporters

February 22, 2011 |  3:37 pm

YemenGovernment supporters swinging clubs tried to drive anti-government protesters from a square in Yemen's capital late Tuesday, the Associated Press reported, as tens of thousands rallied across the country in a widening campaign to bring down President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The pro-government forces eventually withdrew from the square near Sana University, according to the Associated Press. Eleven protesters were taken to the hospital, two of them in serious condition, medical officials told the AP.

The protests erupted  this month as part of a wave of unrest that has spread across the Arab world.

Hundreds continued to camp out in a nearby square, according to the Associated Press.

In the city of Taizz, tens of thousands of protesters rallied Tuesday in a square protesters have renamed "Freedom Square." Several hundred have camped out there in recent days, activist Ahmed Samie told the AP.

On Tuesday evening, more protesters set up tents and fired up generators to run large television screens, Samie said.

Thousands also marched in the port city of Aden, according to AP reports. Schools closed, most government employees stayed away from work and shopkeepers in one area shut their businesses after opening them briefly for the first time in days.

Meanwhile, Vice President Abd Rabou Mansour held a tense meeting with local officials, according to the Associated Press.

Mansour promised to create thousands of  jobs to improve living conditions and criticized the protesters for damaging public buildings, an official who participated in the meeting told the Associated Press.

Local officials demanded that he fire the area's security chief because forces under his command had fired on protesters, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Associated Press reported that protesters also marched in two eastern towns, Al Shiher and Mukalla. In Al Shiher, police stood by as thousands chanted "down, down with Saleh."  In Mukalla, security forces fired tear gas to disperse thousands.

--  Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Anti-government protesters scuffle with government supporters during a protest outside Sana University in Yemen  on Tuesday. Credit: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters