Yemen uprising anniversary marked by anti-Houthi protests

SANAA – Tens of thousands demonstrated Wednesday in capital Sanaa and elsewhere to mark the fourth anniversary of the uprising that toppled autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh and reject the Shiite Houthi group's recent takeover of the government.

Protesters converged on Al-Zebeiri Street, one of the capital's largest streets, and are expected to march along several other roads in and around Sanaa, an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.

Houthi militants, who had sealed off several parts of the capital ahead of Wednesday's protests, stopped photographers from filming the marches.

At least one person was assaulted by Houthi gunmen for trying to film the demonstration, the AA reporter said.

The protests will mark the passing of four years since the eruption of the February 2011 popular uprising that ended Saleh's 33-year one year later.

Eyewitnesses said Houthi militants had sealed off central Sanaa's Taghyeer Square, the epicenter of the demonstrations that forced Saleh to step down.

Militants also sealed Sanaa's largest road, along with several streets near Taghyeer Square.

Along with the Sanaa protests, tens of thousands also demonstrated on Wednesday in the central city of Taiz.

Protesters in Taiz called on the Houthis to withdraw from Sanaa and other Yemeni provinces that they have recently seized.

Thousands of protesters also took to the streets of the central Ibb province, where they shouted slogans rejecting the Houthis' "coup against legitimacy."

They also demanded the withdrawal of armed groups from Ibb and other provinces.

Earlier Wednesday, a tribal source said that armed tribesmen had killed nine Houthis and abducted six others in Yemen's central Al-Bayda province following clashes between the two sides.

The confrontations also left 15 injured, according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

According to eyewitnesses, Hussein Humaiqani, an advisor to the governor of Al-Bayda, was seriously injured on Wednesday by gunfire while taking part in an anti-Houthi protest.

Following the shooting, protesters – many chanting anti-Houthi slogans – marched to the hospital where Humaiqani was being treated.

Several youth-led movements, including one led by prominent activist Tawakkol Karman, had called for mass demonstrations in Sanaa on Wednesday to mark the uprising anniversary.

The same groups had rejected the Houthis' de facto takeover of the government last week, after the Shiite movement dissolved parliament and announced plans to draw up a "transitional council" following last month's resignation of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The Houthi group, for its part, called on supporters to stage rival rallies the same day in the capital.

Last week, the Houthi leadership issued a "constitutional declaration" dissolving parliament and establishing a 551-member "transitional council" to run the country's affairs.

The declaration, however, was rejected by most of Yemen's political forces – along with some neighboring countries – which described it as a "coup" against "constitutional legitimacy."

Late last September, the Houthis seized control of Sanaa and have since sought to expand their influence to other provinces farther afield.

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