Yemeni Forces Kill 9 During Protests

Posted November 11th, 2011 at 7:10 am (UTC-5)
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Yemeni government forces have killed at least nine civilians in Taiz, one of the country's largest cities.

Medical officials and witnesses say the civilians were killed early Friday after forces renewed shelling in Taiz, where demonstrators have been calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's departure.

News reports say pro-government forces opened fire near Freedom Square, the site of ongoing protests against Mr. Saleh. The Reuters news agency says deadly clashes have also erupted between pro-Saleh forces and followers of opposition tribal leaders.

Activists say one person was killed during a government raid in the flashpoint city on Thursday.

The deadly violence has coincided with a visit by a U.N. envoy who arrived Thursday in Yemen to try to convince Mr. Saleh to accept an initiative that calls for him to hand over power.

The Yemeni leader has indicated on several occasions that he would accept the terms of the agreement, which was brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council . However, each time he has backed away without signing the plan.

For months, opposition activists have held demonstrations calling on Mr. Saleh to resign. The president's supporters frequently have held rival rallies coinciding with the opposition protests.

Mr. Saleh could face increased pressure from the European Union next week to accept the GCC initiative. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe says the EU is set to discuss a plan that would freeze Mr. Saleh's assets if he does not agree to end his 33-year rule.