Yemeni government forces shoot protesters

Monday, September 19, 2011
Anti-government protesters carry a wounded protester Sunday from the site of clashes with security forces in Sanaa, Yemen. (Hani Mohammed ~ Associated Press)

SANAA, Yemen -- Yemeni government forces opened fire with anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons on tens of thousands of anti-government protesters in the capital demanding ouster of their longtime ruler, killing at least 26 and wounding dozens, medical officials and witnesses said.

After nightfall, Sanaa sank into complete darkness after a sudden power outage, as protesters took control of a vital bridge, halting traffic and setting up tents. Thousands of other protesters attacked government buildings and set fires to buildings they said were used by snipers and pro-government thugs.

The attack was the deadliest in months against protesters and comes as tensions have been escalating in the long, drawn-out stalemate between the regime and the opposition. The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, left for Saudi Arabia for treatment after being severely wounded in a June 3 attack on his palace, raising hopes for his swift removal -- but instead, he has dug in, refusing to step down.

The protest movement has stepped up demonstrations the past week, angered after Saleh deputized Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to negotiate a power-transfer deal. Many believe the move is just the latest of many delaying tactics.

At the same time, greater numbers of the Republican Guards force, led by Saleh's son and heir apparent Ahmed and armed regime supporters have also been turning out in the streets in recent days.

The Youth Revolution committee, which leads the protests, called on Yemenis to rally "day and night and everywhere in Yemen until we topple the remnants of the regime."

Demonstrations also took place Sunday in many other Yemeni cities, including Taiz, Saada, Ibb and Damar.

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