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Yemen tense in face of mass protests

Last Updated: Sunday, September 4, 2011 - 23:48

Sanaa: Hundreds of thousands of protesters
demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh`s ouster marched on Sunday
in the Yemeni capital, raising tensions as troops deployed to
try to prevent mass protests.

Security forces closed off all access routes to the
capital from yesterday afternoon while armed civilians loyal
to the veteran President also took to Sanaa`s streets, an AFP
correspondent said.

But in an apparent bid to avoid a confrontation with
Saleh loyalists, demonstrators marched in a part of northern
Sanaa that is guarded by an armoured division led by a general
who has defected to the opposition.

The marchers started off from University Square, now
dubbed Change Square by protesters, sticking to nearby streets
and within the area controlled by the general`s troops.

"The people want to march on the (presidential) palace,"
demonstrators chanted.

Sanaa has been left without electricity since yesterday
afternoon, and most petrol stations in the capital have turned
off the taps, semi-paralysing the capital.

The massive deployment by troops loyal to Saleh followed
an opposition call to step up protests against his rule with
the political process deadlocked in the face of the
President`s long absence abroad.

Demonstrations were also staged in Taez, Yemen`s second
largest city and a flashpoint in anti-Saleh protests which
have swept the impoverished state since late January.

Saleh has been receiving medical treatment in Saudi
Arabia for wounds sustained in a June 3 bomb attack on his
Sanaa palace compound.


First Published: Sunday, September 4, 2011 - 23:48
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