Hundreds of Yemeni women set fire to veils on Wednesday in protest at the government's crackdown on demonstrators, after overnight clashes in the capital and another city left 25 people dead, officials said.
The women spread a black cloth across a main street in Sanaa and threw their full-body veils, known as makrama, on to a pile, sprayed it with oil and set it ablaze. As the flames rose, they chanted: "Who protects Yemeni women from the crimes of the thugs?",
Women have taken a key role in the uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's authoritarian rule. This month the Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman was awarded the Nobel peace prize along with two Liberian women, for their struggle for women's rights. Wednesday's protest was not related to women's rights or issues surrounding the Islamic veil. The act of burning their clothing is a symbolic Bedouin gesture signifying an appeal to tribesmen for help, in this case to stop the attacks on the protesters.
The protest came as clashes intensified between Saleh's forces and renegade fighters who have sided with the protesters. Medical and local officials said up to 25 civilians, tribal fighters and government soldiers died overnight in Sana'a and the city of Taiz, despite a ceasefire announcement by Saleh late on Tuesday.