Huge crowds rally in Yemen for and against Saleh

Huge crowds rally in Yemen for and against Saleh

He told supporters in Sanaa any arrangements had to be “within the framework of the Yemen constitution” — language which could mask objections to the plan — and also vowed to “confront challenge with challenge”, but without bloodshed.

“Guns can be used today but you cannot use them to rule tomorrow. We reject war,” Saleh declared.

Nine soldiers were killed in two attacks by tribesmen and al Qaeda militants in the eastern Maarib province, officials said. In the southern city of Taiz, riot police fired in the air to keep vast, unruly crowds of pro and anti-Saleh demonstrators apart, witnesses said. Ambulance sirens could be heard, but there was no immediate word on casualties.

A sea of anti-Saleh protesters, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, inundated the streets of Taiz, Yemen’s third city and an epicentre of opposition to the 69-year-old president.

Tens of thousands of Saleh loyalists turned out in Sanaa, the capital, for what they called a “Friday of Reconciliation”, waving Yemeni flags and pictures of the president.
Their numbers were matched by protesters demanding Saleh's immediate departure, spilling out of their usual protest area around Sanaa University to mark a “Last Chance Friday” in nearby Siteen street, where there was a heavy security presence.

That raised concern that Saleh’s security forces and republican guards might clash with troops loyal to renegade general Ali Mohsen, protecting the protesters in Sanaa.

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