By Michael Mckeand
Yemeni forces have opened fire on protesters in Sanaa killing at least 30 people and wounding 200. Medical sources and eyewitnesses have described how security forces and unidentified snipers opened fire on the protesters who marched after Muslim prayers.
Security forces initially fired into the air to prevent the anti-government protesters from marching from Samaa University, where the protesters headquarters are found. After this initial gunfire, shooting continued and the death toll mounted.
Tens of thousands of protesters had gathered to oppose the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh calling for him to immediately step down from power.
“The situation is tragic. There are dozens killed and hundreds wounded. We couldn’t send relief,” said Abdul-Qawi al-Shumeiri, secretary-general of the doctor’s syndicate.
Protesters accused plainclothes snipers of firing from rooftops and have said that they have detained 7 of them. “The youth stormed one of the buildings and arrested seven snipers who were firing on the demonstrators,” said activist Mohamed al-Sharaby.
Yemen has been hit by mass demonstrations for weeks as growing pressure mounts on President Saleh to relinquish power now. He has already agreed to step down in 2013, promising a new constitution to grant more powers to parliament. Tens of thousands of protesters though have gathered in other cities across the country, not only Sanaa, calling for his immediate exit.
The United States have condemned the bloodshed, and backed the right for peaceful protest, but insist that only dialogue can end the political crisis.