Yemeni forces kill 20 protesters

Troops storm anti-government sit-in as activists condemn crimes against humanity

Security service agents backed by army and Republican Guard troops stormed the protest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Freedom Square in the centre of Yemen’s second-largest city during the night, shooting at the demonstrators and setting fire to their tents, protesters said.

“At least 20 protesters have been killed,” one of the protest organisers said. Troops backed by tanks stormed a field hospital and detained 37 of the wounded receiving treatment there, among hundreds of people rounded up as security forces pursued the protesters into nearby streets, medics and organisers said.

‘Massacre'

“This was a massacre. The situation is miserable. They have dragged the wounded off to detention centres from the streets,” said activist Bushra al-Maqtari. Protesters said that the square had been entirely cleared, while security forces stormed a nearby hotel and arrested several journalists.

The Common Forum opposition coalition condemned the “crimes against humanity” committed by Saleh’s “remaining military and security forces and armed militias.” It warned the veteran president he would be “held personally responsible for his continued crimes against the people.”

“These crimes do not get forgotten with time. They are being documented, and those who have committed them, and who provided arms and money, will not escape justice.” The four-month-old sit-in in Taez was the longest-running protest against Saleh’s rule.

The clashes erupted on Sunday evening outside a nearby police station as some 3,000 people gathered to demand the release of a detained protester. Police fired warning shots then fired into the crowd when the demonstrators refused to leave, a local committee of the ‘Youth of the Revolution’ group said.

On March 18, 52 people died when regime loyalists attempted to break up a similar protest against Saleh’s rule in University Square in the capital Sanaa.

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