This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.
Yemeni police and security agents fired at protesters at the University of Sanaa on Tuesday, March 8, killing three and wounding an estimated 50 people, five of them seriously.
The shooting apparently started when security forces attempted to stop a group of “thousands” of protesters from entering the area of the University of Sanaa where students have continued a three-week sit in. However, one local journalist says the Yemeni government claims the security forces were attempting to stop tribesman from smuggling in weapons to the sit-in.
The protesters have been calling for the dismissal of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years, and leads an ineffective government in an oil producing country with little economic development. Since protests began in early February, an estimated 27 people have been killed and many more wounded. Both Pro- and Anti-Saleh peotesters have continued to gather mostly peacefully throughout much of the country. However, violence towards anti-government protests has been escalating at an alarming rate.
Tuesday's protests were especially large because many women and children had joined to celebrate international women's day. Jane Novak reported soldiers attempted to stop medical professionals from helping the wounded. BBC reported government agents also used stun guns and tear gas to dismiss the protesters. One Tweep, @Leemtee, said the gas has harmful effects.
Medics in Sana'a say that the gas used on protesters has been banned internationally. Causes nerve paralysis and breathing problems.
Warning Some graphic content: Here is a video uploaded by journalist Iona Craig of a hospital where some of the shooting victims were brought. People at the hospital placed the number of wounded between 23 to 50, and said the wounds came from gunshots.
During and immediately following the shootings, Tweeps attempted to cover the events.
@kasinof: clashes at sana univ right now. live bullets being used on protesters
@YERevolutions: #Yemen #sanaa attacks still taking place by thugs and security forces to the moment, and lack of blood and medical… http://fb.me/Xiq0VmXJ
@tm464: Sources from sana'a Security forces and Republican Guard firing live bullets at demonstrators in the change… http://fb.me/ROglelqr
@Leemtee: Ambulances transporting those critically injured from Square of Change
@Leemtee: Medical team in Square of Change has also been targeted by security forces. Live bullets shot.
@alguneid: #SANAA SOURCE EARLIER EVNNG REPBLCN GUARDS DRESSED AS CENTRAL SECURITY WERE POSITIONED.CENTRAL SECURTY WERE NOT KEEN THUMBING DOWN PROTESTRS
@WomanfromYemen: security refused medical aid to enter #sanaa univ square thats where most injured ppl are being treated! #yemen #yf
@yemen4change: many injuries are critical near Sanaa university #Yemen
@WomanfromYemen: doctors needed in #sanaa university square right now.. #yemen #yf
@WomanfromYemen: most protesters being treated in the “room turned hospital” inside the square, some critically injured taken to the hospital #yemen #sanaa
@ArabsUnite: I REPEAT BLOOD SHORTAGE IN #SANAA ESP A- BLOOD GROUP.. DOCTORS ALSO URGENTLY NEEDED AT THE SQUARE OF CHANGE IN #SANAA
@kasinof: tonight was the first time soldiers (in uniform) shot live ammunition at protesters in sanaa
In the aftermath, Tweeps worried about another assault and started to piece the story together.
@listeningseeing: Yemenite state tv outlet songs and dancing while gvt forces kill and hit protesters in Change square in #sanaa #yemen
@Malanesi: Groups of armed security men dresses as civilians enters the gates of sanaa uni from the back Gates and prepares now for another assault.
@Leemtee: Thousands head to Square for Change in Sana'a after security forces shot at protesters.
@Malanesi: Four thugs were caught and they admitted that they were ordered by officers to attack protesters mentioning the officers names. #yemen
@YERevolutions: #Yemen #sanaa Breaking news: more young citizens joins the their injured brothers bringing their shrouds with them… http://fb.me/TsBr5GEB
@spatialshak: Not only has #Ali Saleh refused to adhere to the ppl & peacefully reconcile;BUT DECLARES WAR ON #Yemen PPL using CSF,specialFORCES,RepGUARDs
@yemen4change: I thought #AliSaleh would be more wiser than #Gaddafi, using force against peaceful protesters only puts him in bad situation #Yemen
@Leemtee: Breaking news from Sana'a: Tribes in Sana'a have joined the protesters and injured asking for fall of Saleh's regim
@WomanfromYemen: protesters in #sanaa chanting against regime, and shouting “we wont leave” #yemen #yf
Many agree the attack will affect the country's political situation and will enrage other protesters. First, the group Saleh was to meet with to help form a government of national unity:
@alguneid: DIALOGUE COMMITTEE(JMPs &ASSOCIATES) CONDEMNS CONDEMNS ASSAULT OF SALEH FORCES ON PEACEFUL PROTESTERS
Now, the protesters:
@alguneid: #YOUTH ACTIVIST-ALJAZEERAH TV, THIS ATTACK FROM #SALEH WILL MAKE US MORE STUBBORN . WE SAY IT AGAIN, NEVER TO DIALOGUE, ONLY GO
@spatialshak: The outrage in #Sanaa #Yemen will trigger armed retaliation and gr8 rage against army&police 4 their inimical acts.
@alguneid: #SANAA PROTESTERS PLEDGE WILL NOT LEAVE THE SQUARE TILL SALEH LEAVE. LOUDLY CHANTING FALL UPON #SALEH
@dia_assada: After receiving the news from #Sanaa, people pour in2 Freedom Sq in #Taiz, & “security” forces multiply its presence #Yemen #yf
Some worry about how the outside world will view these fresh killings.
@Leemtee: International community SILENT about killings in YEMEN!!
@WomanfromYemen: Stop military aid to #yemen NOW. Any govt that supports this regime is contributing to the killing & oppression of the people of Yemen. #yf
The blogger leloveluck criticizes governments who continue to prop up the Saleh regime even after its forces attacked protesters in such a public place, in a city where much of the international media is forced to congregate.
One would hope that such a public act of regime brutality will provoke international condemnation. Sadly, this remains unlikely. The past week has seen the initiative slip away from the protesters and back into the hands of the regime; where American and European responses were previously emphasising a need for restraint and reform, the narrative of the previous decade has reemerged, suggesting that Yemen must be viewed through the suspicious lens of counterterrorism. On Sunday, Hillary Clinton alleged Iranian involvement in the protests (unlikely), and shootings in Marib province allowed President Saleh to play the Al Qaeda card. Both events have served as reminders that Yemen remains a place where US foreign policy is defined in terms of geopolitical fear. Despite all this, one hopes that tonight’s events will attract condemnation from the donor community who continue to prop up Saleh’s ageing regime, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.