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Yemen security forces fire on protesters, killing at least one

Yemeni anti-government protesters are attacked with nonlethal weapons and live ammunition upon waking near the university in the capital, witnesses say.

March 13, 2011|By Haley Sweetland Edwards, Los Angeles Times
  • Yemeni pro-government tribesmen shout slogans during a rally in Amran city.
Yemeni pro-government tribesmen shout slogans during a rally in Amran… (EPA )

Reporting from Sana, Yemen — Security forces opened fire on antigovernment protesters when they awoke for prayers Saturday morning near Sana University, killing at least one and injuring hundreds, witnesses said.

Security forces used tasers, tear gas, water cannons and live ammunition against the camped-out protesters, witnesses said.

A government statement said the forces moved against the protesters at the request of residents in the area who felt besieged. The statement said the live ammunition was used by unaffiliated "third parties."

The protesters, calling for the immediate ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ran for cover with scarves shielding their faces from tear gas. Many were barefoot, and some held raw onions to their faces in an attempt to dull the fumes.

Many of the protesters were carried in makeshift gurneys fashioned from scarves and blankets to a triage area in the courtyard of a mosque next to the university in the capital, where they lay sprawled on the concrete floor, vomiting.

Some convulsed uncontrollably, and they alleged that the government used nerve gas against them, a claim denied by the Yemeni government.

The protester who was killed was identified as Abdullah Ali Dahan. News reports said as many as five other people also died alongside him. Before Saturday, 30 people had been killed since the uprising began last month.

"Look what our government is doing to its own people," said Dr. Mohammed Surmi, gesturing to a dead young man wrapped in a red blanket at his feet. "We need help to fight for our freedom. We need help from America."

The American ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, said the situation had become "dangerous" and urged both sides to pursue negotiations.

There seemed little inclination for talk among protesters. Mohammed Gamaladdin, a taxi driver who dropped off his son at the protest Saturday morning, said he expected even more violence.

"But I am not scared," he said. "To die now for our freedom is better than to live forever as slaves."

Edwards is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Garrett Therolf in Cairo contributed to this report.

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