Three Yemeni protesters killed in fresh unrest

Protesters seek the ouster of Yemeni President despite his reform pledges.

Updated: Mar 13, 2011, 00:13 AM IST

Sanaa: Three protesters including a
12-year-old schoolboy were killed in fresh bloodshed in Yemen
on Saturday, as clashes between police and anti-regime
demonstrators raged across the country.

Security forces in the impoverished country, a key US
ally in the war against al Qaeda, fired bullets and tear gas
at demonstrators camping at University Square, killing one and
wounding many more, protest organisers said.

A sniper shot dead another man as he walked with a
group of demnstrators to the square, an opposition party
member said.

Police shot dead the schoolboy in the southeastern
city of Mukalla as they tried to disperse a student
demonstration, witnesses and medics said.

The violence comes a day after 14 protesters were
wounded in protests across the country, which is already
battling secessionist unrest, a Shiite sectarian rebellion and
jihadists from al Qaeda`s Arabian Peninsula offshoot.

More than 30 protesters were shot with live rounds in
Sanaa`s University Square, and hundreds more suffered injuries
including loss of consciousness and spasms from breathing
gases, medics said.

The dawn assault targeted demonstrators who had
breached a concrete police barrier at the square, where
activists have been staging a sit-in for almost three weeks to
demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh has insisted he will see out his term until 2013
while offering to devolve power to parliament after a
referendum on a new constitution this year.

The United States has applauded the offer, with US
President Barack Obama`s top anti-terror advisor, John
Brennan, on Friday calling on the Yemeni opposition to
"respond constructively," according to a White House

Opposition groups had already dismissed the promise of
constitutional change and have vowed to escalate protests
until Saleh, in power since 1978, resigns.

Parts of Sanaa resembled a battleground as people
passed out in the street and convulsed after inhaling gas
fired at the demonstrators.

"This isn`t tear gas. This is poison gas that disables
the nervous and respiratory systems. People hit by this gas
pass out," said Iraqi doctor Hussein al-Joshaai, a nerve
specialist who was at the scene.

Another doctor, Abdulwahab al-Inssi, said: "Those
wounded today couldn`t have been hit by tear gas grenades.
They are suffering spasms."

The interior ministry denied the allegations as
"baseless slander."