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More violent protests

April 17, 2011

Thousands of Syrians called for the ouster of President Assad, while Yemenis demanded their leader step down. In both countries, protesters were shot by security forces.

Thousands of mourners at a funeral in Syria
Tension continues to increase in Syria as protests go onImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Thousands of Syrian mourners chanted slogans calling for the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad at the funeral of a soldier killed during a recent clash between demonstrators and government troops.

Eyewitnesses and activists said at least eight people were shot dead during an anti-government protest in central Syria. The actions could not be independently confirmed, but witnesses said gunmen wearing black clothes opened fire on hundreds of people gathered in the town of Talbiseh, north of Homs, in central Syria.

The chants were reportedly more hostile toward Assad than at other recent demonstrations and appeared to have been prompted by the belief that the soldier who was killed had been tortured by his own military unit.

Prexsident Assad with his new cabinet in Damascus
Assad told his new cabinet that emergency rule would endImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Assad, meanwhile, vowed to lift emergency rule, which has been in place for nearly 50 years, but in a speech to his new cabinet on Saturday he did not address widespread protester demands to curb Syria's pervasive security apparatus and dismantle the authoritarian regime.

In the towns of Suweida and Al-Qraya, regime supporters broke up two rallies, injuring a number of demonstrators, who had gathered to celebrate Syrian Independence Day, while chanting anti-Assad slogans.

In the northern coastal town of Banias, which has been the scene of a violent security crackdown, some 2,500 people demonstrated for freedom and human rights. They marched under banners that read, "You are in Banias, not in Israel" in a rebuke to officials blaming the recent violence on foreign agitators.

Departure of president not negotiable

In Yemen, on Sunday, thousands of protesters called for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, while opposition leaders met with Gulf mediators in Saudi Arabia to find a way out of the country's political crisis.

A female anti-government protester wearing a head band that reads 'Leave' in Arabic
Yemeni protesters display a new world of dissentImage: dapd

During the talks with Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers, the Yemeni opposition said Saleh had to go and that his departure was not negotiable.

Protesters in Yemen carried banners referring to Saleh and declaring, "We want to overthrow the regime and bring the assailant to justice."

At least 40 people were injured in clashes between anti-government protesters and Saleh supporters in the central city of Zamakh.

In the capital, Sanaa, Yemeni troops opened fire on a protest march, wounding at least four people, witnesses said. The soldiers reportedly began shooting when the marchers tried to leave their normal protest zone.

Protesters also rallied in the cities of Taez and Ibb, south of the capital, and in the Red Sea city of Al-Hudaydah.

Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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