SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Security forces opened fired with bullets and tear gas on protesters in the southern city of Aden on Friday, killing at least four people, a medic and a witness said.
The protesters were staging a rally in a central square to demand the country’s outgoing president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, be put on trial.
The witness said some armed men in the demonstration returned fire. A security official said three troops were wounded, including an officer. The medic and security official spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. The witness feared retribution from the authorities.
Protesters held rallies in cities across Yemen Friday calling for regime change and rejecting a recent law granting President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his government officials immunity from prosecution for all crimes committed during his 33-year rule.
Security across Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has collapsed during the 11-month uprising, and Yemen’s active al-Qaida branch has seized territory in the country’s south.
Inspired by the uprisings across the Arab world, Yemenis have been taking to the streets in huge numbers, calling for Saleh’s ouster. Security forces have often responded with deadly force, killing more than 200 demonstrators, spurring calls that Saleh be put on trial for allegedly ordering the killings, as well as for alleged corruption.
In November, Saleh signed a U.S.-backed deal brokered by Yemen’s powerful Persian Gulf neighbors to transfer power to his vice president in exchange for immunity. Protesters say the deal doesn’t address their demands for wider political reform in the country.
Human rights groups object to the immunity law, saying it stands in the way of justice for a corrupt regime with a long history of rights violations.