Gunfire, military deployment as Yemen tensions rise


SANAA – Heavy gunfire was heard south of the Yemen capital on Monday and soldiers deployed in force in Sanaa itself, with a new wave of rallies reported across the country demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh quit.
The impoverished Arabian Peninsula state has been shaken by weeks of protests that have undermined Saleh’s 32-year grip on power, with the president appearing increasingly willing to deal more violently with his many opponents. Seven demonstrators have died in clashes since Saturday, raising the death toll from the unrest to above 30.
“There’s heavy gunfire here, we can’t tell about casualties yet,” activist Bushra al-Maqtari told Reuters by telephone from Taiz, which is 200 km south of Sanaa and one of the biggest sites of anti-Saleh rallies. The US, which has long seen Saleh as a bulwark against a dynamic al Qaeda network in Yemen, has condemned the bloodshed and backed the right for peaceful protest.