News / Middle East

Thousands Rally Across Yemen

Yemeni anti-government demonstrators celebrate after setting on fire a vehicle belonging to supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during clashes in Sana'a, Yemen, February 22, 2011
Yemeni anti-government demonstrators celebrate after setting on fire a vehicle belonging to supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during clashes in Sana'a, Yemen, February 22, 2011

Anti-government protests continued across Yemen on Tuesday, despite promises from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to undertake political and constitutional reforms.  

Hundreds of enthusiastic students continue to camp out in front of Sana'a University as the protest movement against the president enters its 12th day.

Protesters reportedly have set up checkpoints along the perimeter of their demonstration to prevent people who might create trouble from joining their ranks.  Several clashes were reported Tuesday between pro- and anti-government demonstrators, resulting in several casualties.

President Saleh has vowed not to allow the army to fire on unarmed demonstrators, but many of his tribal supporters have clashed with protesters in recent days.

Hakim Almasmari, editor-in-chief of theYemen Post  newspaper says the students set fire to a vehicle belonging to a pro-government supporter, whom they say was spying on them.  According to Almasmari, the incident underscores the tensions between pro- and anti-government demonstrators.

"This fire burning happened at the university campus and there is still tension there.  They have been there for the past three days and are planning to stay there for the next, at least month or so.  They are very optimistic.  They vow not to go home until they get their demands met, whether it takes a day or a month or a year," he said.

Students and other protesters across the country are calling for the resignation of President Saleh, who has led the country since 1978.  Mr. Saleh says he will not quit, unless voters reject him at the ballot box.

The Associated Press reported that 5,000 protesters demonstrated Tuesday in the eastern city of al Shiher, chanting "Down, down with [Ali Abdullah] Saleh."  Almasmari says he has reports that people took to the streets across Yemen.

"Today, there were protests in seven different provinces, in Hodeida, in Bana, Ibb and Taiz and Zamal and Beida.  So it's continuing to grow day by day.  Two weeks ago, there was only one government province.  Today, there are seven provinces [that] have protests," he said.

Hundreds of protesters continue to gather in the provincial town of Taiz, north of the main port city Aden.

Yemen’s defense ministry says several soldiers and civilians were killed when security forces arrested an al-Qaida leader, Mohammed Abdallah Maoutha, in Marib province on Monday.

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