16 Dead In Yemen Riots

A Yemeni protester holds a stick to move tires put on fire during a demonstration in Sana'a Wednesday July 20, 2005. At least eight Yemenis died when rioters and security forces clashed in different areas of Yemen Wednesday, a day after the government said it would reduce subsidies on oil products by more than half. AP

Rioters angry over cuts in subsidies clashed with security forces in several cites for a second straight day Thursday, smashing stores and setting cars on fire in Yemen's worst civil strife in more than a decade, killing 16 people and wounded more than 30.

Security forces opened fire on protesters mobbing around government buildings — including oil products — launched tear gas and beating people with batons. Protesters responded by pelting them with stones.

The violence broke out Wednesday, when eight people were killed, a day after the government announced it was cutting subsidies on oil products by more than half, part of new belt-tightening reforms.

Municipality workers had barely finished cleaning the streets of San'a of damage from Wednesday's clashes when the violence erupted again. Fires broke out and gunfire was heard in several neighborhoods, and army tanks lined the main streets and surrounded the offices of the Cabinet, the ruling party and radio and television buildings.

"Prices have risen and we're afflicted, while not one single corrupt official has been held accountable," Mohammaed al-Baazany, one protester said. "There are officials living in houses worth $10,000 when their (monthly) salary is only $100, where is all that coming from?" added the 25-year-old unemployed university graduate.

"Hunger is merciless," he said.

The riots, in at least a half dozen cities, was worse than violence that broke out in 1992, also over price increases. The new subsidy cuts mean a near doubling of prices of gasoline, diesel, kerosene and gas compressed in containers for public use, while tickets for some public transport increased by about 30 percent — straining household budgets in this impoverished nation on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Melanie Andorfer

Comments