Tens of thousands rally across Yemen

Sanaa, Feb 25 (AFP) Vast crowds took to the streetsacross Yemen after the weekly Muslim prayers Friday to demandveteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down in massprotests that left one killed and 20 injured in clashes withpolice.

In the capital, tens of thousands of protesters pouredinto a main square near Sanaa University chanting "Out, out!"and "God bears witness to your acts, Abdullah," an AFPcorrespondent reported. Organisers said the crowd swelled to100,000.

Police set up checkpoints after Saleh ordered hisforces yesterday to offer "full protection" to anti-regimeprotesters and loyalists alike.

In the past week two people have been killed inclashes with Saleh loyalists in Sanaa, while one was killed insimilar violence in Taez, south of the capital, where an AFPcorrespondent and organisers said hundreds of thousands ofanti-Saleh protesters took to the streets.

The protesters have dubbed Friday "the beginning ofthe end" for Saleh''s regime, which has been in power since1978.

"There is no solution unless the regime steps down,"prayer leader Sheikh Abdullah Satar told the faithful over amegaphone.

A protester was killed when clashes broke out in thesouthern city of Aden, where security forces fired tear gasand bullets as thousands marched from several parts of thecity towards tightly patrolled Al-Aroob Square in Khor Maksarneighbourhood, witnesses said.

Mohammed Ahmed Saleh, 17m died from gunshot wounds inhospital in Khor Maksar, a hospital official told AFP.

Medics also said 20 people were hurt, 18 in Al-Arishneighbourhood and another two in Al-Memlah.

"Police dispersed thousands of protesters by force inAl-Arish neighbourhood," said one of the organisers, Wafial-Shabi.

Security forces have also arrested many of thedemonstrators, Shabi, who said he did not have exact figureson those held, told AFP.

Saleh''s death has raised to 13 the number of victimsof almost daily clashes between police and protesters in Adensince February 16, according to an AFP tally based on reportsby medics and witnesses.

Meanwhile, also in the south, anti-Saleh demonstratorsclashed with militants from the Southern Movement in Hadramawtwho were carrying banners calling for the secession of thecountry''s formerly independent south, witnesses said.

No casualties were reported. (AFP)

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