Thousands of Yemenis protest as unrest high in south

Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:32am GMT

By Mohamed Ghobari and Mohammed Mukhashaf

SANAA/ADEN (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of protesters demanding the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule of Yemen joined demonstrations on Monday, while skirmishes in the south killed three soldiers and a policeman.

Witnesses said around 5,000 protesters who have camped out nightly in the streets near Sanaa University, shouted "We have one demand: the fall of the oppressor."

Protests against Saleh, a U.S. ally against an al Qaeda wing based in Yemen, have spread across the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state in more than a month of protests.

"Leave and take your corruption with you," the protesters in Sanaa shouted.

In the northern cities of Ibb and Hudeida, thousands of protesters gathered while at least 10,000 took to the streets in Taiz, 200 km (125 miles) south of the capital.

Opposition to Saleh, who was previously confronting an on-off Shi'ite Muslim revolt in the north and a secessionist insurgency in the south, has now spread across the country, galvanised by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Yemen is already teetering on the brink of state failure. One in two people own guns, 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day and a third face chronic hunger.

Violence against security forces has spiked in recent days, though it is unclear who has been behind the attacks.   Continued...

<p>A boy shouts slogans during a protest demanding the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh outside Sanaa University February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah</p>
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.