by Mohamed al-Azaki, Wang Qiuyun
SANAA, March 18 (Xinhua) -- At least 41 people, including a child, were killed and more than 200 others injured as police shot at anti-government protesters in Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, according to the latest statistics from doctors at the scene.
As many as 34 protesters were confirmed dead in the makeshift hospital in the sit-in square in Sanaa and another seven died in the Technology and Science Hospital, five km east of the protest sit-in.
Ali al-Fakih, one of the sit-in organizers, told Xinhua that the police snipers in plainclothes also opened fire on army soldiers who were deployed to protect the protesters, killing colonel Ali Hassan al-Shamiry.
"Men in plainclothes poured a large quantity of petrol in the south area of the sit-in square outside Sanaa University and set it ablaze, just minutes before around 200,000 protesters finished their Friday's prayers," al-Fakih said.
"Black smoke rose over the area as about 10 police snipers on rooftop of a commercial building fired live ammunition on the protesters, killing at least 30 and injured more than 200, according to the latest statistics of the doctors," al-Fakih said.
Eyewitness Twific al-Yaziday said a child was killed of a gunshot in the head, adding that more than 20 others were in critical conditions due to wounds in heads, necks and chests.
Al-Yaziday said that police forces are now using live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters outside the campus. He also said military helicopters are still roaring over the area.
More security and military forces backed by armored vehicles were deployed around the sit-in near Sanaa University and around a sit-in in Taiz province, 200 km south of Sanaa, where around 300, 000 protesters have been camping for since three weeks, he said.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of government supporters staged mass demonstrations in downtowns Sanaa and provinces of Dhamar and Taiz.
Yemen has witnessed escalating protests across the country since mid February, demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule.
Saleh pledged earlier neither to seek another term nor to pass power to his son, promising to prepare transferring power to the parliament by the end of this year and calling on the opposition to resume dialogue.
Mohamed al-Sabri, a spokesman of the opposition coalition, told Xinhua that "after Friday's massacre, there will be definitely no future conciliation talks with President Saleh."