Middle East

Yemen protest in Sanaa 'leaves eight dead'

Injured man in Sanaa, 24 Dec Image copyright AP
Image caption Protesters had marched for four days from Taiz in the south

At least eight people have been killed and scores wounded by security forces who opened fire on a protest in the capital, Sanaa, doctors say.

Tens of thousands of protesters had marched on the capital over four days from the southern city of Taiz.

They want a deal giving immunity to President Ali Abdullah Saleh scrapped.

Mr Saleh has transferred power to his deputy and will stand down in February. He said on Saturday he would go to the US soon to help ease the tension.

Mr Saleh signed a peace deal last month after a government crackdown on months of protests had left hundreds dead.

'Out of sight'

The protesters had arrived from Taiz, about 270km (165 miles) to the south, on Saturday.

Reports said they were marching on an avenue containing the presidential palace when the Republican Guard and Central Security forces fired on them with automatic weapons, tear gas and water cannons.

Mr Saleh's son runs the Republican Guard and his nephew leads Central Security.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ali Abdullah Saleh came to power in 1978

Thousands of protesters in Change Square, where anti-government protests have been centred, tried to get to the scene but were blocked off.

Tanks and artillery were seen being deployed to the area but the clashes have now reportedly stopped.

Mr Saleh said he would leave for the US "in the coming days... to get out of sight... to calm the atmosphere for the unity government to hold the presidential election" in February.

But he said he would return later as "an opposition figure".

The unity government is headed by independent politician Mohammed Basindwa.

He has vowed to restore public services, security and stability.

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