Yemeni troops open fire on protesters


Yemen troops opened fire Sunday on protesters calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to be tried for crimes against Yemenis, killing one person, hours before he was expected to make a speech.
The protester was shot in the head as he shouted into a megaphone while perched on top of a minivan that was leading the march of tens of thousands of people in the city, an AFP correspondent reported. The protesters, who set off on from Change Square, the epicentre of the pro-democracy movement in the capital, chanted “Freedom! Freedom! The people want the butcher tried!”
Their demand comes after the bloodiest week Sanaa has seen since mass anti-government protests calling for Saleh’s resignation erupted in January, prompting fears of renewed clashes. In all, more than 170 people, mostly unarmed protesters, have been killed in the capital since last Sunday. Most of the casualties were anti-government protesters killed when security forces used artillery and gunfire and to disperse demonstrating crowds.
In Yemen’s second largest city of Taez, three people were killed and three others were wounded in clashes early on Sunday. The overnight fighting erupted between armed tribesmen who have thrown their support behind anti-government protesters and security forces loyal to Saleh. Two tribesmen were killed and three others were wounded, a tribal source told AFP, requesting anonymity.
A medical official in Taez said a third man was shot early on Sunday by government troops. The clashes came a day after Yemeni security forces in Taez, including the elite Republican Guard troops commanded by Saleh’s son Ahmed, bolstered their deployment throughout the city and on its outskirts. Also on Sunday, witnesses said that the army bombed central Taez.
Four people were wounded when their car was hit in the shelling, they said. The beefed up military deployment came after Saleh’s return to Yemen on Friday after a near four-month absence. The latest protests came amid renewed calls by the United Nations, the United Stares and Gulf leaders for Saleh to step down and transfer power to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
On Saturday, GCC ministers condemned the violence in Yemen and echoed US and UN calls urging Saleh to “immediately” sign the initiative. They also called for “self-restraint, a complete and immediate ceasefire, and for forming a commission of inquiry in the latest events that have cost the lives of innocent Yemenis.”
A UN Security Council statement on Saturday called on all sides to reject violence, including against peaceful and unarmed civilians, and show maximum restraint. “They called on all parties to move forward urgently in an inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led process of political transition,” it said.
Meanwhile, government forces, dissident troops and armed tribesmen, both pro- and anti-Saleh, remained heavily deployed throughout Sanaa, an AFP correspondent said, raising fears of renewed clashes ahead of Saleh’s anticipated speech. Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, traditionally makes his speech on the eve of the anniversary.