Yemeni government forces opened fire with anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons on tens of thousands of anti-government protesters demanding ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, killing at least 26 and wounding dozens, witnesses said. After nightfall, Sanaa sank into complete darkness after a sudden power outage, as protesters took control of a vital bridge, halting traffic and setting up tents. Thousands of other protesters attacked government buildings and set fires to buildings they said were used by snipers and pro-government thugs.
The protest movement has stepped up demonstrations the past week, angered after embattled Saleh deputized Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to negotiate a power-transfer deal. As more than 100,000 protesters massed today around the state radio building and government offices, and began to march toward the nearby Presidential Palace, security forces opened fire and shot tear gas canisters, witnesses said. Snipers fired at the crowd from nearby rooftops, and plainclothes Saleh supporters armed with automatic rifles, swords, and batons attacked the protesters. "This peaceful protest was confronted by heavy weapons and anti-aircraft guns," said an opposition spokesman. He vowed that the intensifying protests "will not stop and will not retreat."