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YEMEN: Two protesters shot in clashes

March 2, 2011 |  3:33 pm

Two anti-government protesters were shot and killed in southern Yemen on Wednesday after security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators, according to reports by the Associated Press quoting a hospital official in the town of Sadr.

The wire service cited witnesses who described how security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protesters, to which the protesters responded by setting three police vehicles on fire. It was unclear exactly how those who perished were killed.

Thirteen protesters were injured during clashes with government supporters and security forces in the Red Sea city of Hodeida, the AP reported.

The violence marked the latest round of upheaval in Yemen, which in recent weeks has seen massive demonstrations demanding an end to the 32-year presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Protesters are demanding an end to what they describe as widespread government corruption, and they are desperate for better job opportunities. Nearly a third of the workforce is out of a job, according to the English-language version of the Arab television network Al Jazeera. And more than 40% of Yemen's 23 million people live on less than $2 a day, the network reports.

An Al Jazeera correspondent reporting from Yemen's capital, Sana, said the opposition had presented Saleh with a roadmap for his departure, and they were "waiting for an answer."

"They have decided to organize what they are calling a Friday of warning in case they don't get an answer," the correspondent said.

On Tuesday, Saleh, who has been an important U.S. ally in the fight against Al Qaeda, blamed the United States for destabilizing the Arab world, saying the upheaval rocking his capital was being run by the White House. He also laid blame on Israel for the unrest.

But on Wednesday, Saleh called U.S. homeland security advisor John Brennan to express his regret for any misunderstanding caused by his inflammatory comments, according to the AP. The Yemeni leader also reaffirmed his commitment to meaningful political reform, the wire service reported.

-- Ann M. Simmons