Violence Spirals in Yemen as Protesters Clash

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Ammar Awad / Reuters

Antigovernment protesters (with their backs to the camera) face off against government backers during clashes in Sana'a, Yemen, on Feb. 17, 2011

Violence flared again in Yemen's capital, Sana'a, on Friday, Feb. 18, as protests continued for an eighth consecutive day. Recent clashes between pro- and antiregime demonstrators have been marked by quick and brutal episodes that have sent opposition protesters scattering into the streets of Sana'a while government loyalists remain at the scene.

Inspired by this year's revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, opposition activists throughout Yemen have increased calls for Ali Abdullah Saleh, President for the past 32 years, to step down. But Saleh, who has recently made a host of concessions that include a pledge to not seek re-election in 2013, still holds some support.

Undaunted by two bloody clashes on Thursday, opposition leaders called for protests to resume after Friday prayers. Thousands gathered at Sana'a University and began marching toward the Saleh Mosque, which is named after the President and was completed in 2008 for an estimated $60 million.

As protesters reached a central underpass along the route, the crowd surged and began shouting the Arabic term for "thugs." Thousands of government supporters charged down the street from the opposite direction, wielding sticks and throwing stones. Brief fighting ensued as security forces fired shots in the air and opposition protesters dispersed.

Protests also continued Friday in Taiz, 130 miles (210 km) south of Sana'a. According to Reuters, a grenade was thrown at a crowd of opposition demonstrators, killing one and injuring at least eight. Meanwhile, local news reported that at least one protester was killed as a result of gunfire from security forces during demonstrations in the southern port city of Aden.

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