Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Violence stokes fears of civil war in Yemen

A violent crackdown by Yemeni authorities has left dozens dead at protests, witnesses and medical officials said Monday.

Bloody violence raged Monday in the capital, Sanaa, triggering a new wave of international pressure on Yemen. The United States and the United Nations called for an end to the violence.

An official with the human rights group Amnesty International said Yemen is on a "knife edge" and the situation could spiral into a civil war.

Officials from the United Nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council were in Sanaa, hoping to help organize a peaceful transfer of power.

Thirty-one people were killed Monday in clashes in Yemen, 28 in Sanaa, and three in Taiz, according to medical officials.

On Sunday, at least 26 protesters were killed and more than 550 were wounded -- hundreds of them by gunshots -- when security forces fired live bullets and tear gas at a massive demonstration in the city, a medic said. The death toll was expected to rise because some were in critical condition, witnesses said.

"The situation is getting very tense," said a resident of downtown Sanaa who asked not to be named for safety reasons. "We can hear gunshots, explosions, RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) constantly." more