4:30 p.m. ET | The Associated Press reported the death toll now stands at 46, including children. Medical staff estimated the number of injured in the hundreds.
< img src=”http://www-tc.pbs.org/prod-media/newshour/photos/2011/03/18/0318_yemen_blog_main_horizontal.jpg” title=”Yemen March 18″ alt=”” class=”blog_main_horizontal” /> Yemeni anti-government protesters carry away a wounded demonstrator in Sanaa March 18, 2011. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)
12:50 p.m. ET | The White House has released a statement from President Obama on the violence in Yemen:
I strongly condemn the violence that has taken place in Yemen today and call on President Saleh to adhere to his public pledge to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully. Those responsible for today’s violence must be held accountable. The United States stands for a set of universal rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly, as well as political change that meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people. It is more important than ever for all sides to participate in an open and transparent process that addresses the legitimate concerns of the Yemeni people, and provides a peaceful, orderly and democratic path to a stronger and more prosperous nation.
10:00 a.m. ET | Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the capital city, Sanaa, where police opened fire and killed several dozen people and injured an estimated 100. Security forces reportedly fired from rooftop vantage points on demonstrators.
The violence marks the most intense protests yet after weeks of antigovernment demonstrations. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for more than three decades, has made concessions, including agreeing to step down in 2013, in an attempt to placate the protesters but the unrest has continued. Saleh is an established ally of the U.S. in a country where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is known to be active.
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Sanaa University has been the focal point of the clashes, where sit-ins and protests have been fueled by youth-driven discontent over high unemployment and government corruption.