Police clash with protesters in Yemeni capital, dozens injured

15:34, April 18, 2011      

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At least 14 policemen were wounded by stones thrown by anti-government protesters in Yemen's capital Sanaa late Sunday, the official Saba news agency reported, while the opposition said 20 protesters were injured by police gunshots in the clashes.

Saba cited an Interior Ministry official as saying that the clashes erupted after the an unlicensed march of thousands of protesters smashed the windows and doors of a number of private shops and broke into those shops, including the Libyan Trade Center.

"The protesters then went on attacking the anti-riot police forces by throwing stones, injuring 14 policemen," the official said, adding "the anti-riot police were forced to disperse the protest march by using tear gas canisters to prevent more violence and sedition between the protesters and the citizens."

The official said security forces spotted anti-government snipers hiding on the rooftop of the building of Sabafon Telecom owned by leading opposition figure Hameed al-Ahmar. He suggested that those gunmen were behind Sunday's shootings.

Nearby residents told Xinhua that the snipers belong to the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), and that they hid on the rooftops and inside the building, "opening fire to the air for no reason."

Meanwhile, the opposition's key media outlet www.alsahwa-yemen.net denied the official account of the incident, and said that the protesters were marching normally like everyday and they did not attack or smash any shop, but rather the police forces late on Sunday attacked the protesters with gunshots and teargas.

It said 20 protesters were injured by live bullets and about 220 others suffered breathing difficulties due to teargas.

Since mid February, thousands of protesters across the country have been holding daily demonstrations, in a bid to end the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and unseat his relatives from senior military and security positions.

Sunday's clashes came as both Yemeni government and opposition representatives were heading for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to attend an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which tries to seek solutions to Yemen's current political crisis.

Source: Xinhua
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