SANAA, (AFP) — Yemeni pro-democracy activists called for a new mass demonstration Sunday aimed at bringing 10 months of protests to a head, a day after troops shot dead at least 12 people marching in the capital.
“We will continue with our protests… even if thousands of our youth are killed. This is the only way to ensure the fall of the regime,” Walid al-Ammari, a spokesman for the protesters, told AFP.
Ammari said activists are planning a fresh march on areas of Sanaa controlled by troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh from their base in Change Square.
They hope to reach within a kilometre (less than a mile) of the presidential palace, a move that could provoke another deadly response from the security forces.
Saturday’s bloodshed came when hundreds of thousands of protesters marched on Al-Zubeiri Street which marks the dividing line between parts of the capital held by troops loyal to Saleh and those held by dissident units under the command of General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar, who rallied to the opposition in March.
Another 17 people, at least five of them civilians, were killed when clashes erupted between Saleh loyalists and pro-opposition tribesmen and army units.
Despite increasingly strident calls for his departure from both Western governments and impoverished Yemen’s wealthy Gulf neighbours, Saleh has repeatedly refused to step down.