Sarah Sheffer | 25 September 2011
CAIRO: Protests in Yemen have escalated in the past two weeks as loyalist troops battle with opposition forces, marking the bloodiest days of conflict since uprisings began last January.
The weekend was particularly deadly in Sanaa, as Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to the state on Friday after having spent three months in Saudi Arabia recuperating from an assassination attempt.
At least one person died and 17 were wounded on Sunday when troops opened live ammunition on crowds of protesters.
Another 40 were killed in Sanaa on Saturday when government forces attacked one of the main protest camps in the city.
Violence in the last week left almost 140 dead.
Some believe that the intensified violence signifies an accelerated attempt by Saleh loyalists to regain hold of the country.
Saleh has not yet announced his intentions in the outset of his return, however he reportedly said that he is returning to the country “carrying the dove of peace and the olive branch.”
Global leaders including the United Nations and the Obama administration have called upon Saleh to allow for a full, immediate and peaceful transfer of power.
“Too many Yemenis have lost their lives and each day that passes without a peaceful and orderly transition is another day that the Yemeni people are forced to live in an unstable environment that threatens their security and livelihood,” said US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
Some fear that the state lies on the brink of a civil war and famine. Two out of every three people live on less than $2 a day, and half of the population owns a gun.
Protesters blame Saleh for negligence, corruption, poverty and lawlessness in Yemen.