Thousands Gather for Rival Demonstrations in Yemen

Posted June 10th, 2011 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Tens of thousands of people have turned out for rallies across Yemen, where some called for the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and others voiced their support for the injured president.

The largest demonstrations took place in the capital, Sana'a, on Friday. Chanting anti-government protesters urged Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur Hadi to set up a transitional government council.

The French news agency reports opponents of Mr. Saleh have agreed on seven potential candidates and plan to present their names to the vice president.

Meanwhile, government loyalists cheered reports from Saudi Arabia that President Saleh's condition had improved. He traveled to that country to seek treatment for facial and burn injuries that he sustained in a rocket attack on his presidential compound last week.

Western news reports say large demonstrations also took place in Taiz, Yemen's second-largest city, as well as several other locations.

Meanwhile, officials in Yemen say an air raid on suspected Islamic militants in the southern part of the country has killed at least three people.

Few details of the attack near the town of Jaar were immediately available. One official told the French news agency the strike killed three relatives of an al-Qaida militant.

Suspected al-Qaida gunmen last month seized the nearby city of Zinjibar after fighting in which scores of soldiers were killed. But troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh have launched a counter-attack to try to regain control of the city.

In a separate incident, suspected separatists in southern Yemen attacked a military checkpoint. At least three Yemeni soldiers and two militants were killed in the skirmish.