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13 Killed in Clashes Between Yemeni Government Forces, Taez Protesters

 US Ambassador Gerald Feierstein Blames the Victims

 December 25, 2011

Yemeni anti-regime demonstrators hold a protest rally in Sana'a to call for the trial of Ali Abdullah Saleh, December 25, 2011, Press TV.

Yemenis rally to demand Saleh's trial

Press TV, Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:54PM GMT S

 Yemenis have held a protest march in the capital Sana'a to call for the trail of Ali Abdullah Saleh for his role in the killing of anti-regime demonstrators during the popular uprising since late January.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of protesters marched from Change Square toward Sittin Avenue, where the residence of Vice President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi is located, in the northern district of Sana'a.

Demonstrators chanted, “The people want to bring the slaughterer (Saleh) to trial,” and, “We will not rest until the slaughterer is executed.”

Yemeni protesters also criticized the vice president, who took over from Saleh on November 23 under a power transfer deal brokered by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council .

“We don't want Abdrabuh, Ali Saleh controls him,” the protesters chanted.

One of the organizers of the protest march called on Hadi to “hand the killers of the youths over to justice, or resign.”

The Yemeni dictator agreed to transfer his powers to Hadi and to step down within 90 days in return for immunity from prosecution.

However, the demonstrators in Sana'a rejected the agreement, shouting, “No guarantee, no immunity to Saleh and to those close to him.”

On Saturday, forces loyal to Saleh killed 13 people during clashes with anti-regime demonstrators in Sana'a after tens of thousands of protesters arrived in the capital at the end of their “March for Life” from the southern city of Taizz, located about 322 kilometers (200 miles) from Sana'a.

The March for Life called on Saleh and his allies to face criminal charges for their roles in the killings of anti-regime protesters.

Following the deadly incident in Sana'a on Saturday, Saleh said that he would leave Yemen for the United States “in the coming days,” claiming that the purpose of the trip would be to “get out of sight and the media to calm the atmosphere for the unity government to hold the presidential election.”

Hadi issued a decree on December 7, establishing a national unity government headed by Mohammed Basindwa, who was appointed as interim prime minister on November 27.

Hadi has also announced February 21, 2012 as the date for a presidential election in the country, which will be the first in Yemen since 2006.


13 killed in clashes between Yemeni gov't forces, protesters

by Mohamed al-Azaki, Wang Qiuyun

SANAA, Dec. 24, 2011 (Xinhua) --

The death toll from clashes between forces loyal to Yemeni outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh and tens of thousands of southern protesters rose to 13 while 200 others were injured, medics and officials said Saturday.

The clashes took place when the government forces attempted to force the protesters, who were marching since Tuesday from southern provinces of Taiz, Aden, Ibb and Dhamar towards the capital, away from a presidential compound. The demonstrators arrived in Sana'a Saturday, demanding Saleh's prosecution.

"The death toll among protesters increased to 13, including a journalist identified as Tawfiq Ahmed, and about 200 others were wounded," doctor Faiz al-Shaybani, a medic at the protesters' field hospital in Sanaa told Xinhua.

The government forces used tear gas and water cannons and fired warning gunshots to disperse the rally, while the protesters threw stones in return, according to the witnesses.

"No immunity for Saleh," chanted the protesters, who walked about 200 km from Taiz to Sana'a to demand Saleh's prosecution for "his crimes against the 11-month-old protest movement."

A security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that four government soldiers were injured during the clashes.

The four-day march, which accompanied by mobile clinic and kitchen, aims to send a message to the UN Security Council and the Arab League about their demand to prosecute Saleh, said its organizers.

Meanwhile, Saleh held a press conference in Sana'a on Saturday evening, saying that he is planning a trip to the United States for medical check.

"I will go to the U.S. for medical check, as well as to stay away from attention and media, and I will return back to Yemen to go to street to take part in opposition activities," he told reporters without giving specific date of his trip.

Saleh also denounced the opposition rally, considering it a " clear violation of a Gulf-brokered initiative that granted him immunity from prosecution."

He called on the new government of Prime Minister Mohamed Basindwa to fulfill its commitment to implement the UN-backed Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative in full.

Official Saba news agency reported that Basindwa ordered Ministers of Defence and Interior to launch a comprehensive investigation into the Saturday clashes.

Later in the day, the ruling party website quoted U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein as saying that "Saturday protest march was not a peaceful one as it aimed at causing chaos and violence."

In the evening, more than 20,000 protesters from the south continued their march in downtown Sanaa, screaming out slogans and frightening citizens.

The impoverished Arab country has been in the grip of months- long political crisis triggered by mass protests demanding to oust Saleh. About 2,000 people have been killed and thousands of others injured since the protests began in late January.

Saleh and the opposition signed the GCC initiative in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 23. Under the deal, a new opposition-led coalition government was formed earlier this month and early presidential elections are set to be held on Feb. 21, 2012, while Saleh retains the title of honorary president for 90 days before his resignation and enjoys immunity from prosecution afterwards.

Editor: Tang Danlu

Yemen's Saleh says to go to U.S. for medical check

SANAA, Dec. 24, 2011 (Xinhua) --

Yemen's outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Saturday that he would travel to the United States for medical check, without giving the specific date of his departure.

"I will go to the U.S. for medical check, as well as to stay away from attention and media, and will return to Yemen to go to the street to take part in the opposition activities," Saleh told reporters at a press conference in Sanaa.

Saleh also called on countries brokering the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) power transfer initiative to "stand by Yemen during the transition period."

He denounced the opposition march that started in the southern area and arrived in the capital on Saturday to demand his prosecution, saying that the escalation of protests was an opposition action to the GCC initiative.

The impoverished Arab country has been in the grip of a months- long political crisis triggered by mass protests demanding Saleh's resignation. About 2,000 people have been killed and thousands of others injured since the protests began in late January.

Saleh and the opposition signed the GCC initiative in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 23. Under the deal, a new opposition-led coalition government was formed earlier this month and early presidential elections are set to be held on Feb. 21, 2012, while Saleh will retain the title of honorary president for 90 days before his resignation and will enjoy immunity from prosecution afterwards.

March turns deadly as thousands clash with army


Forces loyal to Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh halted tens of thousands of demonstrators before they reached the presidential compound in Sanaa on Saturday, killing at least nine people.

By News Wires (text)

REUTERS - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday he would leave for the United States and give way to a successor, hours after his forces killed nine people demanding he be tried for killings over nearly a year of protests aimed at his ouster.

But Saleh, who agreed to step down last month under a deal cut by his wealthier neighbours who fear civil war in Yemen will affect them, did not say when he would depart and vowed to play a political role again, this time opposed to a new government.

The bloodshed and political uncertainty hinted at the chaos which oil giant Saudi Arabia and Saleh's former backers in Washington fear Yemen could slip into, giving the country's al Qaeda wing a foothold overlooking oil shipping routes.

Troops from units led by Saleh's son and nephew opened fire with guns, tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators who approached his compound in the capital Sanaa after marching for days from the southern city of Taiz, chanting "No to immunity!"

Mohammed al-Qubati, a doctor at a field hospital that has treated protesters during 11 months of mass demonstrations against Saleh, said some 90 people suffered gunshot wounds in addition to the nine killed. About 150 other people were wounded by tear gas canisters or incapacitated by gas, he said.

The marchers denounced the deal Saleh agreed last month giving him immunity from prosecution in exchange for handing power to his deputy, who is to work with an interim government including opposition parties before a February presidential election.

That plan, crafted by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and mirrored in the terms of a U.N. Security Council resolution, has been bitterly denounced by youth protesters who demand Saleh face trial and his inner circle be banned from holding power.

"The blood of the martyrs has been sold for dollars," shouted protesters, before forces from the Republican Guard and Central Security Forces attacked on roads leading to Saleh's compound, which was surrounded by tanks and armoured vehicles.

Activists rounded up

Saleh, who repeatedly backed out of the Gulf plan to nudge him from power before a June assassination attempt forced him into hospital in Saudi Arabia, said he would both let Yemen's new government work, and oppose it.

"I will go to the United States. Not for treatment, because I'm fine, but to get away from attention, cameras, and allow the unity government to prepare properly for elections," he said, adding he would undergo some medical tests.

"I'll be there for several days, but I'll return because I won't leave my people and comrades who have been steadfast for 11 months," he said. "I'll withdraw from political work and go into the street as part of the opposition."

Alluding to the relationship of his poor, populous country to its resource-blessed neighbours, he said: "An unstable Yemen means an unstable region. So, protect the security, unity and stability of Yemen, neighbour states; its security is yours."

A Yemeni online publication quoted the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa, Gerald Feierstein, describing the march as a provocative act, during a meeting with Yemeni journalists. The ambassador could not immediately be released for comment.

As Saleh spoke, a member of the bloc of opposition parties that share the cabinet with members of Saleh's party said security forces had rounded up dozens of people including Samia al-Aghbari, an activist in the anti-Saleh protest movement.

Aghbari sent a text message saying: "The Republican Guard is taking me and (another activist); they are dragging us by our clothes and shooting in the air."

Saleh's General People's Congress party said on Thursday that the protest violated the terms of the transition pact, under which the government is to oversee disengagement of his forces from rebel army units and tribal militias with whom they have fought in Sanaa and elsewhere.

Their battles, which the youth protesters regard as an internecine conflict among a criminal elite, have left parts of the capital and Taiz, 200 km (125 miles) to the south, in ruins and deepened a humanitarian crisis in a country with multiple, overlapping regional conflicts.

US drone strike in south

Those include fighting with militant Islamists in the south, where Islamists have seized much of the territory in one province and have significant influence in another.

Saleh's opponents have accused him of ceding ground to Islamists to bolster his claim that he alone can check the Yemen-based branch of al Qaeda, which has planned abortive attacks abroad from Yemen.

A Yemeni security source said on Friday that a U.S. drone had killed a relative of the al Qaeda wing's leader in Abyan, the Islamist militant-held province where battles with government troops have cost at least 50 lives this week.

A CIA drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen linked to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, earlier this year.

Fighting in Abyan has forced tens of thousands of people to flee the province, compounding the humanitarian crisis in a country where about half a million people are displaced and oil exports that fund imports of staple foodstuff have mostly ceased during the struggle over Saleh's fate.

Elsewhere in southern Yemen, gunmen killed a Briton of Yemeni origin and wounded a soldier accompanying him in an attack on an oil company vehicle that a local official blamed on highway robbers.

In the southern port city of Aden, a grenade blast, apparently the work of feuding gangs, killed one person and wounded five at a market late on Friday, a local official said.

Separatist sentiment is running high in the south, formerly a socialist republic that fought a civil war with Saleh's north in 1994 after four turbulent years of formal union.

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