Yemen says 1,480 killed since beginning of unrest

By NEHAL EL-SHERIF AND RAMADAN AL-FATASH | Deutsche Presse-Agentur | Published: October 2, 2011

SANAA, Yemen - At least 1,480 people have been killed in Yemen since the clashes between pro-democracy protesters and security forces began in February, a government spokesman said Saturday.

Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi told reporters that the toll of civilians and military and security personnel covered the period from when the unrest started until September 25.

It was the first such estimate released by the government.

Meanwhile on Saturday, three Yemeni soldiers were killed during a military operation against Muslim radicals with suspected links to al-Qaida in Zinjibar, the capital city of the southern province of Abyan, the Ministry of Defense website reported.

It added that the army in the southern region of Yemen, with the help of local residents, was able Saturday to take control of several districts in Zinjibar from suspected al-Qaeda affiliates.

The operation came one day after Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born radical Islamist cleric seen as a spiritual leader of al-Qaida, was killed in an airstrike in eastern Yemen.

Islamist militant groups have taken advantage of the ongoing uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh and have taken control of several areas in southern Yemen.

Elsewhere, thousands of people took to the streets of Yemen's capital Sana'a on Saturday to demand that Saleh's government be brought to justice over its violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The demonstrators chanted slogans indicating their determination to continue peaceful protests until the president of 33 years steps down.

"Our quest for change will continue to be peaceful. We will not be dragged by attempts to trigger a civil war in the country," Ahmed Mahyoub, a protester from Sana'a, said.

Since Sept. 18, more than 100 people have been killed in clashes between forces loyal to Saleh and his opponents.

Millions of Yemenis have taken part in anti-government protests in Sanaa and elsewhere since February.

Distributed by MCT Information Services