Libyan, Yemeni protesters take to streets

Defiant demonstrators took to the streets in Yemen and Libya on Thursday, continuing a wave of anti-goverment protests that have rippled through the Arab world.
Anti-government protesters assist an injured fellow protester during clashes with government supporters in Sanaa, Yemen, on Thursday. ((Ammar Awad/Reuters))

Defiant demonstrators took to the streets in Yemen and Libya on Thursday, continuing a wave of anti-goverment protests that have rippled through the Arab world.

In Yemen, thousands of protesters ignored the military's call for calm and marched in several cities across the country, pressing on with their campaign to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

For seven straight days, protests have hit the capital, Sanaa, and other cities in the Arab world's poorest country, a mountainous territory wracked by tribal conflicts and armed rebellion.

In Sanaa, protesters fought off attacks by police and government supporters swinging batons and daggers. Municipal vehicles ferried sticks and stones to the pro-government side, witnesses said.

MAP: Middle East protests

Since mid-January, North Africa and the Middle East have been gripped by revolutionary fever.

In Aden, protesters burned tires and at least four government vehicles, one day after security forces killed two demonstrators in an attempt to quell the unrest.

Protester Adib Salam said police shot rubber bullets and live rounds at protesters and attacked them with batons and stun guns. He said many injured were lying in the streets because cars and ambulances could not move freely in the city.

Local council head Omar Abdel-Nasser called the police's tactics against protesters "illegal."

"The killing in cold blood of youths protesting peacefully that we are seeing now and that we saw yesterday are a terrible crime" committed by security forces, he said.

Inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, Yemenis have poured into the streets to demand the president step aside. Their main grievances are poverty and government corruption.

Saleh's promises not to run for re-election in 2013 or to set up his son as his heir have failed to quiet the anti-government storm.

Clashes, deaths reported in Libya

In Libya, protesters seeking to force Moammar Gadhafi out of office took to the streets in at least four cities. 

The demonstrations were dubbed a "day of rage" by Gadhafi-opponents.

Libyan pro-Gadhafi supporters wave his posters during a march supporting leader Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli on Thursday. ((Abdel Magid Al Fergany/Associated Press) )

"Today the Libyans broke the barrier or fear, it is a new dawn," said Faiz Jibril, an opposition leader in exile.

Unconfirmed reports have emerged saying that at least 20 demonstrators have been killed in two days of clashes in Libya, and a U.S. rights group says at least 14 people have been arrested.

In the capital of Tripoli, government supporters staged counter-demonstrations, waving flags and chanting in support of the leader.

The official news agency JANA said Thursday's pro-government rallies were intended to express "eternal unity with the brother leader of the revolution," as Gadhafi is known.  

The anti-government protesters are demanding that Gadhafi, who has ruled for more than 40 years, step down. Gadhafi has met with tribal leaders, offered to double salaries and released 110 suspected Islamic militants in an attempt to defuse public anger.

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, troops and tanks locked down the capital of Manama after uprooting a protest camp in a central square, beating demonstrators and blasting them with sprays of tear gas.

With files from CBC News