Yemen protesters clash with regime loyalists, police

SANAA — Anti-regime protesters and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh supporters clashed in Sanaa for a fourth day straight Wednesday, while police dispersed protesters in Aden, AFP correspondents reported.

Three journalists were among those beaten up by Saleh supporters in the clashes near Sanaa University between students demanding the president’s ouster and supporters of his ruling General People’s Congress (GPC).

The protesters set off from the university heading towards Al-Sabiine square near the presidential palace, but were attacked by hundreds of Saleh loyalists armed with batons, stones and daggers as soon as they left the campus.

The protesters responded by hurling stones and clashes later spread to the university campus where police fired warning shots in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

Protesters, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, accused government “thugs” of “brutally” attacking them and alleged that the assailants included plainclothes police.

“The thugs and supporters of the ruling party … (want to) massacre” the students, head of the university’s student union Radwan Masud told AFP.

He vowed that the students will “continue their revolt and will not be hindered by the ruling party’s actions.”

A sit-in by hundreds of judges demanding greater independence of the judiciary and the ouster of the Supreme Judicial Council, meanwhile, went into its second day Wednesday outside the justice ministry in Sanaa.

The judges who have poured into Sanaa from around Yemen said they want all the members of the Supreme Judicial Council, including the justice minister, to be sacked. They also are demanding higher salaries.

Yemen’s main southern city of Aden was also hit by protests on Wednesday as security forces chased hundreds who took to the streets of Al-Mansura neighbourhood demanding Saleh quit.

“The people want to overthrow the regime,” the protesters chanted, echoing the slogan which has become popular across the Arab world following uprisings which saw the downfall of leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

“It’s time to leave Ali,” they shouted as security forces fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse them, an AFP reporter said.

The protesters responded by hurling stones at the security forces and in the fracas a protester was seriously injured in his back, medics said.

The security forces, deployed heavily in the city, arrested at least four people and took down tents which were set up by the protesters in Al-Mansura.

Workers in the city also protested at several state-owned companies demanding their managers to step down and calling for higher allowances.

Some 300 employees at Yemen Petroleum Company began a strike on Wednesday urging their management to resign. They carried banners reading: “Manager leave.. Enough corruption.”

“The events in Egypt and Tunisia have inspired us to snatch our rights by force. Aden will launch a workers’ revolution,” an employee at the oil company, Mohammed Abdulalim, told AFP.

Workers at the Public Electricity Corporation and at Yemen Gulf of Aden Port Corporation, who stormed into its administrative offices and physically removed its chairman from his office on Monday, protested for a third day in a row, said an AFP reporter.

Clashes have taken place daily in Sanaa this week as protesters, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, demand Saleh’s ouster.

On Tuesday, police in the capital dispersed clashes between regime supporters and a crowd of anti-government protesters that left three wounded. In Taez, south of the capital, Saleh backers and protesters have also clashed.

On Monday, rocks and batons flew in the capital as the protesters — mainly students and lawyers — clashed with police and Saleh’s supporters. Police also clashed with protesters in Sanaa on Sunday.

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