Three killed as tens of thousands rally across Yemen

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Sanaa, Feb 26 (AFP) Police killed three people as vastcrowds took to the streets across Yemen after weekly Muslimprayers, staging mass protests to demand that veteranPresident Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

Clashes between police and demonstrators yesterdaycontinued into the night in the restive south, where threepeople died and 40 were wounded, medics said.

The port of Aden, the main city in south Yemen, sawthe worst of the violence, with thousands of protestersconfronting security forces who used live ammunition todisperse them, the hospital source said.

Witnesses said the security forces opened fire at asit-in of protesters gathered in front of a hotel on the mainstreet in the Maalla district to demand the departure ofSaleh, who has been in power for 32 years.

In Aden''s Crater district, hundreds of demonstratorstried to attack a police station and blocked roads in otherquarters with burning tyres, witnesses said.

Protesters were also prevented from gathering in asquare near the security headquarters and several consulates.

A teenager was killed when security forces fired teargas and live rounds as thousands marched from several parts ofAden towards tightly patrolled Al-Aroob Square in the KhorMaksar neighbourhood, witnesses said.

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

The identities of the two other victims were notimmediately known.

"Police dispersed thousands of protesters by force inAl-Arish neighbourhood," one organiser, Wafi al-Shabi, toldAFP.

Security forces also arrested many demonstrators, saidShabi, who added that he did not have exact figures on thenumbers held.

The latest deaths raised to 15 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.

In the capital Sanaa earlier, tens of thousands ofprotesters poured into a main square near Sanaa Universitychanting "Out, out!" and "God bears witness to your acts,Abdullah," an AFP correspondent reported.

Organisers estimated the numbers at 100,000.

Police set up checkpoints after Saleh on Thursdayordered his forces 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, and one was killed insimilar violence in Taez, south of the capital, where an AFPcorrespondent and organisers said hundreds of thousands ofanti-Saleh protesters demonstrated. (AFP)

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