Over 20 killed in Yemen

Another 375 people were wounded, 255 of them police or soldiers, reported an interior ministry statement.

Yemeni officials had appealed for protestors to stay calm, while opposition groups urged the government to reverse its decision.

Government forces backed by army tanks and armored vehicles deployed along main roads.

Violence appeared to have subsided in the capital on Friday, with many shops closed for the weekend, amid fears of resumption of armed confrontations following midday prayers.

But worshippers reportedly left the mosques of Sanaa peacefully following the prayers, which saw many preachers condemn the acts of violence.

Army tanks called in to reinforce police were seen stationed around government buildings, while tight security measures were also visible around the residences of high-ranking officials.

Clashes erupted late Wednesday between armed demonstrators and security forces in Sanaa and other cities following a cabinet decision to double the prices of fuel products by removing subsidies. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world.

In the northern city of Saada, angry protestors tried to storm the headquarters of the ruling General Pople’s Congress, the state oil company and a state-owned bank.

The Yemeni cabinet announced late Tuesday it had decided to remove subsidies on fuel, nearly doubling petrol prices.

“The cabinet has reached a conclusion… To continue subsidising fuel products consumed locally would lead eventually to an increase in budget deficit… and put pressure on exchange rate and prices,” a cabinet statement said.

Parliament speaker Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar called Thursday for protestors to calm down, condemning the acts of violence and vandalism.

“What happened is against the law,” he told state-owned television.

Opposition parties called for the government to reverse the price rise.

They criticised “acts of vandalism” by protestors but also condemned the “killings in confronting the public outcry against government measures,” and called for an independent investigation.

Yemen, situated at the south-eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula, has a population of 19.7 million, and per capita gross domestic product is less than 800 dollars.

Clashes often break out in Yemen, a country with a tribal structure where the number of firearms in civilian hands is officially estimated at more than 60 million, or more than three per inhabitant.