Injuries and fatalities in Yemen after anti-government protests
In what may be the bloodiest day yet since anti-government protests broke out in Yemen two weeks ago, residents around Aden are reporting numerous fatalities as security forces opened fire on protesters in many districts throughout the day and evening Friday.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement late Friday evening
The security forces opened fire in the afternoon in the al-Mu’alla district as more than 1,000 protesters chanting “peaceful, peaceful,” and carrying posters reading “peaceful” stopped about 100 meters from a line of approximately 100 military, police, and other security forces, the witness said. President Ali Abdullah Saleh had two days earlier promised to prevent clashes at anti-government demonstrations and protect the rights of protesters to assemble peacefully.
Police shot over the heads of protesters as well as directly into the crowd and fired tear gas. It was just one of many bloody scenes across Aden. A video shot outside the Aden Hotel in Khormakser that shows a crowd fleeing from live fire can be accessed at Youtube here. Government snipers were positioned on the roofs and tanks deployed early in the day.
A preliminary tally of fatalities by local sources indicates seven killed in Al-Areesh, four in Khormakser, at least two in Mallah, one in Tawahi, two in al Mansoura and one in Salahudin, with dozens more wounded. Efforts are underway by international organizations to document the full scale of the carnage.
If these figures hold, the death toll in Aden today exceeds that of all protest fatalities nationally since the fall of Tunisian president Zine bin Ali. The Yemeni protesters are calling for the resignation of the president, Field Marshall Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since 1978.
Aden residents report that the dead and wounded lay in the streets, sometimes for hours, as live fire from security forces pinned down medics, ambulances and other concerned citizens trying to give aid. Several areas reported that homes were randomly strafed. Electricity was cut in many parts of Aden.
Gunshots were heard throughout the night with the last report coming in at 4 am local time, a full ten hours after the assault began.
International media sequestered in the capital Sana’a reported a party-like atmosphere as tens of thousands protested without incident. Similarly anti-government protests in Taiz, Yemen’s second largest city, were free from violence. Access to Aden has been nearly impossible for western journalists and the local journalists suffered a broad and brutal clamp down on the press that includes arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, fines, the shuttering of papers, physical assaults and slander.
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