Pro-Saleh forces kill 20 in clashes in Yemen's second city, Taez

Reuters/Khaled Abdullah

In Yemen, at least 20 protestors were killed when forces loyal to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh broke-up a sit-in in the country’s second largest city, Taez overnight Sunday. Security services backed by army and Republican Guard troops stormed the protest in Freedom Square shooting at protestors and setting fire to their tents. 


The clashes erupted on Sunday evening outside a nearby police station as some 3,000 people gathered to demand the release of a detained protestor.

Demonstrators say the square has been entirely cleared. Security forces also raided a nearby hotel and arrested several journalists. Elsewhere, troops backed by tanks stormed a field hospital and detained 37 of the wounded who were receiving treatment.

The Common Forum opposition coalition condemned the “crimes against humanity” and warned the president he “would be held personally responsible for his continued crimes against the people”.

The four-month-old sit-in in Taez was the longest-running protest against Saleh’s rule.

Meanwhile, there are reports that more than 200 suspected al-Qaeda members have taken control of the capital of the southern Abyan province, Zinjibar.

At least 21 people have been killed in fighting there since Friday and residents have fled the town.

The attackers are said to have freed dozens of prisoners from the town’s main jail and one witness claimed gunmen had executed soldiers who surrendered.

Dissident army generals have called on the army to fight for Abyan and join what they called the ‘peaceful popular revolution’.

More than 200 demonstrators have been killed since the protests first broke out in Yemen. Scores more people have died in armed clashes between loyalist troops and dissident tribesmen.

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