March 21, 2011
Yemen: Tanks moved onto streets
Yemen saw massive demonstrations against US-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Saturday as crowds tens of thousands strong clashed with security forces.
In the capital Sanaa the government had to bring out tanks and other military forces to protect key buildings as crowds swelled.
Protesters also stood their ground in the city of Mualla, surging out of their destroyed encampment and encircling a police station.
More than a month of daily protests calling for political freedom and an end to corruption have presented President Saleh with the most dire challenge in his 32-year rule in Yemen.
In the bloodiest day of the uprising, Yemeni forces killed at least 46 people and injured hundreds in the capital on Friday, with snipers firing on demonstrators from rooftops.
On Saturday, police fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters at a camp in Mualla.
At least 13 people were wounded, including three hit by live rounds.
Thousands surged out of the camp and surrounded a nearby police station in an attempt to seize it.
Police opened fire and security troops demolished their encampment but confrontations continued.
Protesters chased security forces out of Dar Saad and took control of the city.
Dar Saad has witnessed some of the deadliest clashes in the past few days in which seven people have been killed.
Protesters have set fire to the main police station, torched police cars and blocked roads to stop troops from bringing in reinforcements.
In Sanaa soldiers in tanks and armoured personnel carriers took up positions at junctions and key buildings, including the presidential palace, state TV building and other government institutions. Soldiers searched motorists and passers-by.
Orders to implement a large-scale military operation aimed at emptying main squares of protesters within the next 48 hours have been issued by the authorities, who are said to be planning to arrest opposition leaders soon.
The violence was condemned by the UN and the US, although it is still sending Yemen's government $250 million (£154m) in military aid this year.
Several prominent members of the ruling Congress Party announced their resignations on Saturday.
Among them were two former culture ministers, the head of the state-run Saba news agency and the Yemeni ambassador to Beirut.
Even the Yemeni president's own tribe has called on him to step down.
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