Sanaa, Feb 21 (IANS) A teenager was killed and four people were wounded Monday when security forces attacked pro-democracy protesters in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, a media report said.
The soldiers opened fire at the youths who were throwing stones at their military patrol in the city’s Khormaksar district, witnesses were quoted as saying by Al Jazeera.
The death brings to 12 the number of people killed in unrest in Yemen since Thursday.
Yemenis, angered by corruption and unemployment in the country and inspired by the democratic revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, are demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down after 32 years of autocratic rule.
Shots were also fired at a demonstration in the capital Sanaa, as the anti-government protests continued for 11th consecutive day. Thousands of people also staged sit-ins in the cities of Ibb and Taiz Sunday, the channel said.
In the capital, as many as 50 government supporters tried to break up a demonstration outside Sanaa University by more than 3,000 protesters.
Marching students chanted and carried posters reading ‘Get out Ali for the sake of future generations’.
A Saleh supporter fired shots from an assault rifle but no casualties were reported and the government supporters soon dispersed, while the protesters continued their demonstration chanting, ‘Leave, Ali!’
Both sides fired from weapons Saturday outside the university – the first reported use of firearms by demonstrators.
Five soldiers were wounded Saturday evening in Khormaksar and Sheikh Othman when protesters clashed with security forces, a local official and witnesses said Sunday.
In the southern city of Ibb, around 1,000 protesters set up camp in Freedom Square waving banners which read ‘Leave’ and ‘The people want the fall of the regime’, witnesses said.
Saleh, in power since 1978, said Monday that only defeat at the ballot box will make him quit. Earlier, he said that he would not run in the 2013 presidential election.
‘If they want me to quit, I will only leave through the ballot box,’ Saleh told a news conference as thousands of protesters, including opposition MPs, gathered outside Sanaa University to demand his departure.
Saleh, a US ally battling a resurgent Al Qaeda wing based in Yemen, faces soaring unemployment, dwindling oil and water reserves, and chronic unrest in northern and southern provinces.
On Sunday, the Yemeni president renewed his call to opposition parties to continue dialogue and blamed the previous two days of protests, in which five people were killed, on ‘elements outside the system and the law’.
‘Dialogue is the best way. Not sabotage. Not blocking the roads,’ he told tribal, military and civil leaders in Sanaa.
According to Al Jazeera, Saleh’s message to the pro-democracy protesters is clear: There is no way he can allow them to bring about change by taking to the streets.
‘The government has also been saying, over the last few days, that calls for independence in the South won’t be tolerated,’ the TV channel said.
On Friday, at least three pro-democracy protesters were killed and dozens of others injured during clashes with security forces in Aden’s Khor Maqsar district, witnesses said.
Friday’s violence came a day after Yemeni riot police opened fire to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters in Aden. The police action left four dead.