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Yemeni security forces fired on crowds of demonstrators in the capital Sunday, killing at least four people just one day after another attack on a mass demonstration killed 12 people.
The protesters are calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
Nine months after the protest movement began, the situation is intensifying. President Saleh made a surprise return last month from Saudi Arabia, where he received medical treatment for wounds sustained in an attack, and has continued to refuse to step down.
The Republican Guard, led by Saleh’s son, also fought with troops loyal to Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, an army general who defected to the opposition in March. The clashes took place near Change Square, where protesters have camped for months, reports the AP.
In the southern city of Taiz, security forces also attacked a protest, killing one person and wounding seven others, according to the AP.
Protesters more defiant
On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched to the street in the capital that divides territory controlled by Saleh’s troops and that controlled by those loyal to General Ahmar, according to AFP. At least 12 people were killed when security forces fired on the crowd, and AFP reports that another 17 people died in clashes between the rival military units and tribesmen.
Yet despite the bloodshed, some protesters have no intention of giving up. "We will continue with our protests ... even if thousands of our youth are killed," Walid al-Ammari, a spokesman for the protesters, told AFP. "This is the only way to ensure the fall of the regime.”
Closer to civil war
The Christian Science Monitor reports that Saleh’s refusal to give up power or negotiate with the opposition is pushing the country closer to civil war. His return from Saudi Arabia last month emboldened both his supporters and the opposition, but neither side has the ability to triumph militarily or politically over the other. A civil war would be multidimensional and would be felt across the region, reports the Monitor.
Saleh has repeatedly agreed to, then refused, a deal backed by Saudi Arabia and the US, in which he would hand power to his vice president and would in turn receive immunity. Ahmar Sunday called on the international community to force Saleh to resign, reports AFP. "We are calling for an urgent intervention by the international community to bring an immediate stop to the massacres by this ignorant murderer," he said.
Separately, a US airstrike in Yemen Friday night killed nine people, including the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-Yemeni member of Al Qaeda who was killed by an airstrike Sept. 30. The Associated Press reports that the dead were Al Qaeda militants, and included the media chief of Yemen’s Al Qaeda affiliate, Egyptian-born Ibrahim Al Banna.