Yemen forces fire on protests, Gulf to send envoy



Yemen forces fire on protests, Gulf to send envoy Sanaa: Government forces fired machine guns to halt a protest against Yemen's president on Thursday, wounding dozens, and Gulf states sought to revive talks on a power transition to stem the rising bloodshed.

An opposition leader told Reuters the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) was due in Sanaa on Saturday to try to resurrect a deal to end the crisis which fell through last month when President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign.

"They told us that Abdullatif al-Zayani will come to Sanaa on Saturday in a new attempt to revive the initiative," he said.

A government official played down prospects of an imminent deal, saying only that Zayani would come at some point next week to hear differing views on the plan, which would ease Saleh out within a month after nearly 33 years in power.

There was no immediate comment from the GCC, but Zayani released a statement condemning the violence of recent days, part of a crackdown on three months of protests inspired by uprisings across the Arab world.

"The secretary general calls on all sides to return to the Gulf initiative to solve the crisis, as it is the best exit to the tragic situation Yemen is living," he said.

Security forces, using machine guns mounted on military vehicles, fired in the air, wounding dozens of protesters setting up roadblocks along a main street in the city of Taiz, 200 km (125 miles) south of Sanaa, a Reuters reporter said.

The injured were rushed to a clinic in a square where demonstrators have been camped out for months. Leaders shouting on megaphones urged protesters to head to the main road to reinforce demonstrators as clashes continued.

In the southern city of al-Baydah, angry protesters attacked the ruling party building and set it ablaze after two demonstrators were shot dead by men in civilian clothes believed to be security officers, residents said.

Seven protesters were wounded in the shooting, a witness said.

Washington and Gulf Arab states, especially neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia, worry more chaos could give ample room for al Qaeda's aggressive Yemen-based wing to operate more freely, and have been eager to implement the Gulf-brokered deal.

Reaching a deal may grow harder as violence increases.

Yemeni forces killed 13 protesters on Wednesday, bringing the overall death toll above 160, and raising fears of a broader conflict in a country where half the population owns a gun.

PRESSURE RISING

This week's bloodshed may fuel public rage ahead of Friday, the Muslim day of prayer and traditionally the largest day of rallies in the three-month-old revolt against Saleh.

Security forces, using machine guns mounted on military vehicles, fired in the air, wounding dozens of protesters setting up roadblocks along a main street in the city of Taiz, 200 km (125 miles) south of Sanaa, a Reuters reporter said.

The injured were rushed to a clinic in a square where demonstrators have been camped out for months. Leaders shouting on megaphones urged protesters to head to the main road to reinforce demonstrators as clashes continued.

In the southern city of al-Baydah, angry protesters attacked the ruling party building and set it ablaze after two demonstrators were shot dead by men in civilian clothes believed to be security officers, residents said.

Seven protesters were wounded in the shooting, a witness said.

Washington and Gulf Arab states, especially neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia, worry more chaos could give ample room for al Qaeda's aggressive Yemen-based wing to operate more freely, and have been eager to implement the Gulf-brokered deal.

Reaching a deal may grow harder as violence increases.

Yemeni forces killed 13 protesters on Wednesday, bringing the overall death toll above 160, and raising fears of a broader conflict in a country where half the population owns a gun.

PRESSURE RISING

This week's bloodshed may fuel public rage ahead of Friday, the Muslim day of prayer and traditionally the largest day of rallies in the three-month-old revolt against Saleh.

zee