26 Mar 2011

Rival demonstrations in Yemen

6:55 am on 26 March 2011

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in rival demonstrations in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a week after some 50 people were shot dead at a protest.

Protesters occupied a main square and surrounding streets demanding the immediate resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Elsewhere, Mr Saleh addressed a crowd of his own supporters condemning the bloodshed but urging his supporters to stand firm.

He also told them he was prepared to transfer power under certain conditions.

Mr Saleh has been in office for more than three decades.

The BBC reports Yemen, is a key ally in the US fight against al-Qaeda, which has a strong presence there.

Two recent bomb plots against US targets - two American cargo planes in October and a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009 - originated in Yemen.