Tens of thousands rally across Yemen

SANAA — Tens of thousands of Yemenis demonstrated after the main weekly Muslim prayers around the country on Friday to demand that veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

In the capital, thousands poured into a main square near Sanaa University, many of them women, chanting “Out, out!” and “God bears witness to your acts, Abdullah,” an AFP correspondent reported.

Police set up checkpoints close by.

The protesters have dubbed Friday “the beginning of the end” for Saleh’s regime which has been in power in Sanaa since 1978.

“There is no solution unless the regime steps down,” prayer leader Sheikh Abdullah Satar told the faithful over a megaphone.

In the main southern city of Aden, thousands rallied to demand the 64-year-old president resign, an AFP correspondent said.

There were no immediate reports of any violence in the city, which has seen almost daily clashes between police and protesters since February 16, that have killed 12 people and wounded scores.

In Sanaa, two people have been killed in clashes with Saleh loyalists, while one was killed in similar violence in Taez, south of the capital.

The president has resisted pressure to resign but has vowed not to seek re-election when his current term ends in 2013 and has promised political reforms.

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