At Least 25 Killed in Yemen Crackdown on Protests

Unconfirmed reports list the number of casualties from live fire at 42 demonstrators demanding the ouster of the president.

At least 25 people were killed and hundreds injured when police opened fire Friday at hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in the Yemeni capital Sana'a. Doctors claims that as many as 42 demonstrators were killed by government forces.

Security men in civilian clothes on the rooftops of surrounding houses opened live fire on protesters, apparently shooting to kill by aiming at the head and chest, an eyewitness told the German Press Agency DPA.

yemen - Reuters - March 18 2011

They also used tear gas and water cannons hoping to disperse the protesters who were demonstrating to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, he added.

Security men in civilian clothes also attacked protesters camping in the northern province of Dhamar and set ablaze a number of tents. Dozens were injured in the attack.

Yemeni President Saleh said that police were not present at the clashes and that the disturbances involved two groups of civilians. Yemeni Interior Minister Muttahar al-Masri said a curfew and other measures to prevent a further deterioration in the situation in Yemen were still being discussed.

Protesters have rejected proposals by Saleh that aim at appeasing demonstrators. His proposals include giving more power to parliament and amending the constitution in a way to meet peoples' aspirations.

Saleh, a key U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism, has been ruling the country for 32 years. He recently announced he will not run for re-election in 2013.

The international community, including the U.S. and the United Nations, has called on the Yemeni government to refrain from violence against protesters and journalists in the country.

Following in the wake of popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, anti-government protests and demonstrations began in Yemen on February 11. Up till Friday, more than 30 people were reported killed in government crackdowns on the demos.