Hundreds of Yemeni government loyalists armed with batons and daggers assaulted student demonstrators in a sixth day of anti-government protests in the capital, Sana’a. The students responded by throwing stones at their attackers.
At least four people were wounded in the clashes as hundreds of students tried to march from Sana’a University toward the city center Wednesday.
Yemeni police tried to keep the two sides apart by blocking some students from leaving the university and firing shots into the air, but the fighting escalated. Yemeni students vowed to keep marching from the university in their campaign to oust authoritarian President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Opposition protesters began holding daily anti-Saleh protests in Sana’a last Friday, inspired by an 18-day Egyptian uprising that forced the country’s autocratic president to step down that day. But, Saleh supporters have confronted the opposition activists on a daily basis, leading to frequent clashes.
Yemen is one of the world’s poorest nations and is beset by several internal conflicts, including southern secessionists, northern rebels and al-Qaida insurgents.
In a gesture to his critics, Yemeni President Saleh announced earlier this month that he will not seek re-election when his term ends in 2013. He has been in office since 1978.