As an estimated 100,000 gathered in Yemen’s capital, Sana, to mourn 83 killed — including Anas, a 10-month-old boy — when security forces shot at them over the weekend, five more people have been confirmed dead. Not only did government forces shoot at protesters sitting in tents in Change Square during prayers. They also shelled the headquarters of the First Armored Division, which is commanded by dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and has been protecting the protesters.
After the weekend’s violence, a ceasefire had been called but the deaths today have already ended it after less than 24 hours. While 83 is the official death toll, many say that it is double that. Journalist Tom Finn, who is reporting from Sana, says that he has been told of soldiers shooting people and taking away the bodies.
The Guardian quotes Finn about the shootings today of protesters in Change Square, where many have been staging a sit-in since February:
“There are holes in buildings and in tents and marks on the ground where all of these bullets [or shells] fell. And this was during prayer time. That’s what they are so shocked about.
“One person died instantly … the other four died from sniper fire at the other end of the protest camp – Kentucky roundabout which is the front line. It is hard to know if this is stray gunfire or if this is intentional. But the fact that it is has happened twice in a row makes it hard to believe that this is just an accident.
The 6-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has again failed in its attempt to start a transfer of power to end a months-long political stalemate in Yemen. GCC chief Abdulatif al-Zayani had arrived Monday in Sanaa but has left without a deal. The GCC proposal calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is currently recovering from severe wounds suffered in an attack in early June, to transfer power in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says that violence in Yemen has reached “unprecedented” levels. The latest violence between former soldiers protecting the protesters and government forces is the worst that has occurred since anti-government protests began in January. 52 had been killed in a similar crackdown in March. Yemenis, whose country is the poorest in the Arab world, have been calling for an end to Saleh’s 33 years of rule and to years of corruption and nepotism.
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