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Yemenis pray for impasse end as explosion rocks Aden - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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SAMAA/ADEN, (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of Yemenis protested in Sanaa in a “Friday of the Revolutionary Will” to underline their drive to oust their wounded president.

A car bomb blast killed five people in the southern port city of Aden, in the latest violence shaking Yemen, stuck in political limbo over President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s refusal to quit, despite being hurt in an attack on his palace this month.

Saleh, 69, recovering from his wounds in Saudi Arabia, has defied months of mass protests and pressure from the United States and his Gulf Arab neighbours for his departure.

He has repeatedly refused to transfer power to his deputy under a Gulf-brokered plan aimed at preventing the impoverished Arabian country from sliding to civil war.

Four soldiers and a civilian were killed and 16 people, including 13 soldiers, were wounded in a powerful explosion in Aden’s al-Mansoura district, medical sources and witnesses said.

A security source said the blast was caused by a car bomb at a military checkpoint. Residents said the explosion smashed the windows of a nearby hospital and rocked buildings in the area.

Earlier, security forces in Aden shot dead a demonstrator and wounded six others when they fired on a crowd at the funeral of a resident who died in prison, witnesses said.

The demonstrators had been displaying a large flag of former south Yemen, which merged with north Yemen in 1990 — a sign of the separatist sentiment that had grown in the south even before the wave of popular protests against Saleh’s 33 years in power.

In the capital Sanaa, opposition supporters packed the central Street Sixty to show they still wanted Saleh to quit.

The number of demonstrators who had camped out in city squares all over Yemen since February had dwindled after Saleh was flown to Riyadh for treatment after the June 3 attack.

“We will escalate our struggle and revolution to bring down the remaining pillars of the regime and force them to leave,” said Abdel-Jabbar al-Dubhani, an activist as he hurried for the traditional Friday prayers on Sixty Street.

Demonstrators raised placards demanding an interim council be set up to prepare for elections. They want it to include youthful activists who have kept up protests since February.

“We demand a transitional council,” one sign said.

Addressing Western powers, the Friday prayer preacher said: “Isn’t freedom and choosing our own rulers, as you do in your own countries, our right?”

Similar protests were reported in other cities, including Taiz, Ibb and Hudaida on the Red Sea.

Saleh supporters, in smaller numbers, prayed at another mosque in Sanaa, displaying posters of the president and his Saudi host, King Abdullah, before dispersing peacefully.

“Thank you, king of the Arabs,” one poster read, referring to the Saudi monarch. Another said: “The people want Ali Abdullah Saleh.”

U.N. RIGHTS MISSION

A team of United Nations human rights investigators will travel to Yemen next week to assess the situation after months of unrest, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Friday.

The experts will talk to government officials, activists, victims of human rights violations, political opposition members and religious leaders during the June 27-July 6 mission.

The United States has called for an immediate and peaceful handover of power to Saleh’s deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, acting president in Saleh’s absence, under a Gulf Arab proposal to end a crisis that has pushed Yemen to the verge of civil war.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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