Police Clamp Down on Protests in Yemen

by Matthew Shaffer

The Times reports


SANA, Yemen — Large numbers of police officers took up positions around the capital here on Wednesday in an attempt to end six days of running street battles between small groups of pro- and antigovernment protesters. Students again organized protests at the capital’s central university calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Mr. Saleh attributed the effort to drive him and other regional leaders from office to “foreign agendas,” according to the state-run Saba news agency, quoting a telephone conversation between Mr. Saleh and the king of Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who is also facing widespread street protests.

“There are schemes aimed at plunging the region into chaos and violence targeting the nation’s security and the stability of its countries,” Mr. Saleh told the king, the state agency reported.

Several hundred students marched against the Yemeni leader through the streets from Sana University, the gathering point for many young protesters who have sought to emulate the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. The police moved to block students from demonstrating near the university, Reuters reported, but the demonstrators broke free. There was no indication of violence against them.

In the southwestern city of Taiz, thousands of students who have occupied the streets in overnight protests that began on Friday vowed to remain there until Mr. Saleh stepped down. The police have arrested more than 100 demonstrators and around 30 have been injured in skirmishes with pro-government groups who have periodically set upon the antigovernment encampment wielding sticks and hurling stones.

There were also fresh protests by southern secessionists in Aden, the port city east of Taiz, where demonstrations have been notably more violent. One protester, about 20 years old, was said to have been shot to death in battles with the police on Wednesday, according to reports from the city, as hundreds took to the streets in several neighborhoods.

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