Bloody Crackdown on Protesters in Yemen Mounts
At least 24 people have been killed by security forces in Yemen on Monday, doctors say, continuing a bloody crackdown on protesters that started on Sunday.
In Sanaa, the capital, 22 people were killed, including a child, when troops opened fire at protesters, activists at the field hospital told the German Press Agency (DPA).
The attack came after the demonstrators expanded their protest area following a Sunday assault by the security forces of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in which 26 protesters were killed and hundreds wounded.
In the southern city of Taiz, government forces used live ammunition and tear gas upon thousands of Yemenis, who took to the streets denouncing the attack and criticising Saleh and his family. The attack left two dead and dozens injured, a doctor in Taiz said.
The Gulf Cooperation Council's chief, Abdulatif al-Zayani, arrived in Sanaa on Monday, shortly after UN envoy Jamal Benomar, the state-run SABA news agency reported.
The Gulf Cooperation Council brokered a deal last spring that aimed at ensuring a peaceful transition of power, and provided immunity to Saleh against prosecution.
Protesters rejected the deal, saying Saleh should be put on trial for the death of around 450 people since anti-government rallies began in February.
Saleh has been recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds suffered during an attack on the presidential compound in June.
Last week, a Western diplomat told DPA that Saleh would not return to Yemen and will transfer powers to the vice president within 10 days.
The rest of the capital was almost deserted on Monday morning, witnesses said. Many people did not go to work as security forces were blocking many roads.
Yemen's government on Monday expressed its "sorrow and condemnation" of Sunday's violence and promised an investigation.
"The government of Yemen expresses its sorrow and condemnation for all acts of violence and bloodshed as those happened yesterday in Sanaa," Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qurbi told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
"The government will investigate and hold accountable all those who were in charge of these acts," he added.
"It is unfortunate that these events occurred at a time while some solutions for the political crisis started to appear," said the minister.
During their march on Sunday night, protesters drove out the security forces, who were replaced by troops of dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar's First Armoured Brigade.
The troops immediately set up roadblocks to protect the demonstrators, who now occupy a three kilometre (two mile) stretch of Sanaa, extending from Change Square towards the centre, witnesses said.
"New tents were set up in the centre of Sanaa," one witness said.
The Organising Committee for the Youth Revolt in Sanaa which insisted in a Sunday statement that its actions will remain "peaceful," urged Yemenis to "come out and gather" across the country "day and night" until the regime falls.
It also urged soldiers from the Republican Guard and the central security services to "refuse to obey orders given to them by members of Saleh's family to kill their own people."
The interior ministry had accused protesters of wounding four members of the security forces, throwing petrol bombs at electricity generators, and burning official vehicles.
Oxfam said in a statement, meanwhile, that one in every three Yemeni goes hungry every day because of the months-long political stalemate that has pushed the economy to the verge of collapse and the government towards total paralysis.
"Widespread hunger and chronic malnutrition have taken hold in Yemen," the international charity said in a report on the country of 22 million.
Saleh, who is recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds received in an explosion in Sanaa in June, last week authorised Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to negotiate a power transfer with the opposition.
But the opposition has dismissed calls for dialogue before Saleh, in power since 1978, signs a Gulf-brokered deal that would see him hand power over to Hadi in return for amnesty from prosecution for himself and his family.