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Yemen: 'Government thugs' fight protesters

Thousands of protesters seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh braved warning gunfire from police and attacks from government supporters with batons and daggers to march though the Sanaa, country's capital, yesterday for a seventh day.

A protester was killed by what a local official called "random gunfire" as police tried to disperse an anti-government demonstration in the south of the country, AP reported. Some groups there have long sought secession and police have been quick to try to quell the protests with tear-gas and by firing into the air.

About 40 people were wounded in the fighting in Sanaa as police reportedly looked on without intervening, according to Reuters. Protesters, who have called for a "day of rage" today, have been complaining that their street opponents have been hired by the government to instigate fighting.

Despite calls by the military and Yemen's most influential cleric to halt the protests, the marchers, inspired by the revolts in Tunis and Egypt and angered by corruption and deep poverty, continued to demand an end to the 32-year rule of President Saleh.

The President has co-operated with US attempts to fight al-Qaida in Yemen, intensified since the failed attempt by a Yemen-educated Nigerian to blow up a Detroit-bound aircraft in December 2009.

Mr Saleh's promises not to run for the presidency in 2103 or to foster his son's candidacy for the succession have failed to appease his opponents, about 50 of whom were arrested during yesterdays protests. Military leaders called for calm after a meeting with the President on Wednesday.

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