45 killed after Yemen protesters fired upon

Saturday, March 19, 2011

45 people have been killed in Yemen after gunmen fired on protesters in the city of Sana'a. Several hundred more were injured.

The origins of the gunmen are not known for certain, but it is believed that both government security forces and civilian supporters of the government are responsible.

The shootings occurred shortly after midday prayers when protesters began moving towards a burning car. According to witnesses, several warning shots were fired by security forces before they fired on protesters, soon joined by gunmen on the tops of buildings.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, however, has denied that the government is responsible for the deaths. He said that "[w]hat happened today was very regrettable, the death of our children." He also ordered a state of emergency, which would ban civilians from bearing weapons, to be declared.

One opposition leader termed the incident a "massacre," and called it "part of a criminal plan to kill off the protesters, and the president and his relatives are responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen today." Another said the events have caused there to be "no longer any possibility of mutual understanding" between the opposition and government.

Tourism Minister Nabil al-Faqih resigned in protest after the killings. Another prominent ruling-party member, Mohammed al-Qadhi, said "[w]e condemn these crimes against humanity." He had already resigned last week. "Even if it's plainclothes men firing on the protesters it is still the government's responsibility to protect them."

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