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Human Rights Watch says Saleh's forces killed 270 across Yemen in Arab Spring protest

Sanaa, Thu, 09 Feb 2012 ANI

Sanaa, Feb 9 (ANI): Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered a crackdown on Arab Spring protesters in 2011, which killed at least 270 people nationwide, a US-based human rights organisation has claimed.


According to Human Rights Watch, at least 120 protesters and bystanders were killed in just one city that was the focus of anti-government demonstrations.


The report is based on interviews with over 170 Yemeni experts and witnesses, and provides more details than the sketchy accounts of deaths in Yemen last year, Fox News reports.


"They had tanks and bulldozers. They were throwing petrol bombs into the tents and firing from many directions," the group's report quoted a 32-year-old protester Arif Abd al-Salam as saying.


"I saw with my own eyes a man with a loudspeaker calling on the security forces to stop attacking and killing their brothers. He was shot dead with a bullet," he added.


The organization said that its interviews confirmed 120 killings just in Taiz, with 57 protesters and bystanders killed in attacks on rallies and 63 civilians killed in shellings and other attacks on opposition tribal fighters.


At least 22 of the dead were children, the report added.


Human Rights Watch said it counted at least 270 deaths nationwide in Yemen last year, but the actual number might be far higher.


Meanwhile, Saleh, who is currently in New York to receive medical treatment, has blamed the violence in Yemen on terrorists.


After months of protests demanding his ouster and mounting international pressure, Saleh signed a deal in November brokered by Gulf neighbors and backed by the US to pass power to his vice president.


An election is scheduled for February 21 to select Saleh's successor. As a head of state, Saleh has diplomatic immunity until then. (ANI)


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