Policeman shot dead by Yemen protesters

Sanaa, Feb 20 (IANS) Anti-government protesters armed with rifles Sunday shot dead a police officer in Yemen’s southern region of Aden, Xinhua reported, quoting the police.

‘There was no protest in all Aden’s districts today, but in Khour Maksar district, around 10 protesters armed with rifles gunned down a police officer while he was standing near a police patrol car. The gunmen disappeared in the neighbourhood,’ a police officer said.

Meanwhile, another security officer said government forces in Aden Sunday arrested a leader of the Yemeni separatist southern movement, Hassan Baoum, for inciting people to take up arms against the authorities.

In the capital Sanaa, up to 2,000 protesters, mostly students, staged a sit-in Sunday outside Sanaa University to mark the 10th straight day of calling for an end to the president’s 33-year rule.

‘No casualty occurred as anti-riot police managed to force around 100 government backers wielding daggers and batons away from the anti-government protesters who kept shouting ‘Leave, Leave’, referring to President Ali Abdullah Saleh,’ a source said on condition of anonymity.

Elsewhere, in the southern province of Ibb, around 1,500 protesters gathered for the first time in this province, calling for Saleh to leave.

Saleh Sunday renewed his call for the opposition coalition to take part in a national dialogue that will stave off the chaos from the country.

‘As the president of the country, not only president of the ruling party, I’m ready to sponsor the national dialogue between them to save our homeland from unrest,’ Saleh said in a speech aired by state television Sunday.

Saleh, who has been in power for more than 30 years, said earlier he would not seek re-election or pass power to his son. He also pledged to freeze all controversial constitutional amendments which allowed him to be president for life.

At least six people were killed in clashes between government supporters and pro-democracy protesters demanding the ouster Saleh. Four died during protests in Aden Saturday, and a student was killed in the city of Taiz, Iran’s Press TV reported Sunday.

Another student demonstrator was killed the near Sanaa University campus Saturday. The 16-year-old was shot dead when government supporters armed with guns, batons and rocks were trying to break into the campus.

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