Yemen Police Kill 31 Protesters
Today marks harshest response yet from government
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 18, 2011 8:59 AM CDT
An anti-government protestor who guards the site of a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, watches pedestrians, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, March 17, 2011.    (Muhammed Muheisen)
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(Newser) – Yemeni security forces firing from rooftops and houses shot at tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators, killing at least 31 as the protesters entered a downtown square in the capital to demand the ouster of their autocratic president. Today's violence is the harshest response yet from President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Before the shooting today in Sanaa, a military helicopter flew low over the square as protesters arrived from prayers. Thick gunfire soon erupted from rooftops and houses near one of the square's main entries, sending protesters scrambling for cover.

Doctors at the makeshift field hospital near the protest camp at Sanaa University confirmed at least 31 dead, three of them children. Thousands also rallied today in the cities of Taiz and Adan, their protests inspired by the unrest across the Arab world that toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia. But the government response has been far harsher in Yemen.