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Is violence pushing Yemen to the brink?

The past 24 hours have been the bloodiest since the uprising in Yemen began in January and many fear the once peaceful protests may turn violent.
Yemen 50 killedEnlarge
As Yemen has witnessed its bloodiest 24 hours since the uprising began nine months ago many fear the country is edging towards civil war. (AFP/Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

An eyewitness to the unfolding situation in Yemen has spoken of almost civil war like conditions in the country’s capital Sanaa today. Hakim al-Masmari who works for the global campaign organization Avaaz, said that attacks on citizens are taking place in almost every street of the capital and that heavy artillery is being used against protesters.

“All roads are blocked in the capital and bullets are flying everywhere,” he said. “Anyone who is seen walking in the streets is shot instantly.”

At least 50 people have been killed while 650 people were injured in the past 24 hours after security forces indiscriminately shot at protesters calling for the toppling of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. At least 21 people were killed today across Yemen.

“President Saleh knows that he will be forced to sign the GCC power transfer proposal within the next week,” Ali Abdul Jabbar, Director of the Sanaa-based Dar al-Ashraf Research Center told GlobalPost, “and he is seeking to do anything to stay in power, even if it means killing protesters.”

Government forces opened fire on anti-government protesters Sunday using anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons killing at least 26 people and wounding dozens.

According to Amnesty International, security forces used snipers and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) against protesters, and the organization describes the situation as “worsening in the southern city of Taiz after security forces opened fire on protesters marching in solidarity with those killed in the capital Sanaa.”

"Yemen is on a knife edge. Those who have been protesting peacefully for change are increasingly frustrated by the political deadlock," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Eruptions of violence point to a growing risk of civil war. The Yemeni authorities must stop the use of excessive force before the violence spirals out of control," he said.

The fear of the peaceful protests escalating into a violent uprising or a civil war is echoed by Jabbar in Sanaa: “If the international community does not interfere quickly this can go bad. Clashes are now in every street of the capital Sanaa and could spread to every street in the country,” he told GlobalPost.

“More blood will be spilt over the next week as Saleh is learning how to kill his people from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/violence-pushing-yemen-the-brink

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