SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni security forces in the central city of Taiz fired tear gas and live ammunition into the air Thursday to break up clashes between protesters and plainclothes government supporters, witnesses said. More than 100 people were injured, most from tear-gas exposure, according to local reports.
"They shot at us and threw rocks at us," said Boshra al-Maqtari, a protest leader who was at the scene. She said there were about 200 government supporters there. The clash began when the government supporters tried to attack a march through the city, and protesters taking part in a sit-in calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh came to the marchers' defense.
Demonstrators have held sit-ins in at least three other major cities, including Sanaa, the capital, to demand that the president step down. In the past month, protests against Saleh's leadership have been widening and growing more violent, and about 40 demonstrators have been killed. The demonstrations in Taiz have been more peaceful than those in Sanaa and in the southern port city of Aden, where many of the deaths occurred.
On Wednesday, the head of security for Aden, Brig. Gen. Abdullah Qiran, was assigned to lead government security efforts in Taiz. Al-Maqtari said the demonstrators believed that Qiran was involved in the attack in Taiz.
In Sanaa before sunrise Thursday, a clash occurred between government supporters and protesters. Two protesters were wounded by gunfire, said Adel al-Suraby, a spokesman for the student group leading the demonstration. The protesters, whose camp extends for more than a mile in front of Sanaa University, were armed with sticks and rocks. In addition, according to a government statement, security forces seized two members of al-Qaida heading for the sit-in in Taiz.
Saudi Arabia's monarch will announce a government reshuffle, an anticorruption drive and a promise to increase food subsidies to combat rising prices in his first address to his nation since unrest began sweeping the Arab world, diplomats said Thursday. King Abdullah's speech is expected after midday Muslim prayers today.
Bahrain arrested six opposition leaders on Thursday, kept the main hospital surrounded by troops and tanks and imposed a nighttime curfew on the center of its capital as it moved to the next stage of a crackdown on reform-seeking protesters, sending the political opposition into crisis.
A day after troops drove demonstrators from the main square, popular unrest had been reduced to a few skirmishes in villages known as opposition strongholds.
Information from the New York Times and Associated Press was used in this report.