Riot police fired shots in the air and used tear gas against thousands of government opponents who also clashed with supporters of Yemen’s longtime ruler on what protest organizers billed as a nationwide “Friday of Rage.” At least four people were wounded.
Riots also flared overnight in the southern port of Aden, the country’s second-largest city, with police shooting to death one demonstrator after cars and a local government building were set ablaze, officials said.
Tens of thousands rallied in the southern city of Taiz, a hotbed of dissent. It was the eighth straight day of protests in Yemen inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Demonstrators in the Arab world’s poorest country are calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh - a key US ally in fighting al Qaeda terrorists - who has ruled the country for 32 years.
Organizers using social media sites Facebook and Twitter in summoning people to the streets for the “Friday of Rage” following noon prayer, and thousands responded.
A preacher at the Sanaa University mosque spoke out against torture and beating of demonstrators, telling protesters who had gathered there: “We have been living for 30 years without purpose or hope.”
One protester was shot dead as police tried to disperse crowds in Aden, witnesses said, and another person was killed and seven wounded when a hand grenade was thrown from a car into a crowd in Taiz, south of the capital Sanaa.