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Yemeni protesters seek world backing

By Hakim Almasmari, for CNN
updated 6:12 PM EDT, Tue October 4, 2011
Yemeni anti-regime protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2011.
Yemeni anti-regime protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A half dozen protestors are in critical condition, medics in Sanaa say
  • Demonstrators protest in Sanaa, other places
  • The opposition has denied claims of ongoing dialogue
  • Shelling is reported near the western entrance of Change Square

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Anti-government demonstrators took to the streets in the Yemeni capital in two massive protests Tuesday, and the throngs chanted for international support, witnesses said.

One protest occurred in Sanaa in the morning, and the other took place at 4:30 pm. -- large gatherings that signaled a strong opposition movement. Anti-government forces have been pushing for the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Attacks are everywhere in the city. The government has gone wild against its people. Where is the world powers to help us?" said Yasser al-Nusari, a medical staff official in Taiz Square on Tuesday.

Dozens of banners were seen calling the international community to stop the bloodshed in Yemen. Protesters also railed against what they see as the Saleh government's repressive actions, and they called for Saleh to face justice before the International Criminal Court.

"Saleh Saleh will be hanged," one banner read, while another said "The world must stand against the killer."

Anti-Saleh protests also took place in the provinces of Ibb, Dhammar, Aden, Hadramout, Taiz and Hodieda.

International powers have been urging Saleh to transfer power, but it has not yet happened, despite a deal cobbled together a few months ago by the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional coalition of nations.

Riyadh Ali, a youth activist, said "we have been patient nine months and are willing to wait longer. However, we feel that the end of Ali Saleh is near."

"Saleh refused to step down when given immunity. We feel it is his destiny to leave power degraded instead of with honor," said Ahmed Bahri, an opposition Haq party official.

The opposition Joint Meeting Parties rejected claims by the ruling General People Congress party that dialogue was ongoing between the two sides.

Mohammed Qahtan, spokesman for the Joint Meeting Parties, said the ruling party was spreading such rumors to decrease the international pressures on it.

"There is no dialogue between the opposition and ruling party since the U.N. envoy to Yemen left," Qahtan said. "This is a tactic used by Saleh to show the world that there is no crisis in Yemen. It's a lie."

Witnesses said Yemeni government forces also fired shells that landed near the western entrance of Change Square, the epicenter of the protest movement in Sanaa.

Medics said two civilians were killed and six others, including a child, were in critical condition.

As unrest and discontent spread across the Arab world this year, Yemenis staged demonstrations against Saleh, whose regime has faced mass discontent, a robust insurgency and economic challenges such as grinding poverty. The president was badly injured in an assassination attempt last June and recently returned to the country from Saudi Arabia, where he received medical treatment.

Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in a drone attack in Yemen last week.

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