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(Updates death toll in first paragraph.)
Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Thousands of Yemeni protesters clashed with security forces and armed gunmen loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, leaving at least eight people dead.
Five demonstrators and two soldiers who defected and joined the opposition were killed in the capital today, Sana’a, according to Mohammed al-Qubati, a doctor at the field clinic at the demonstrators’ camp. At least one woman was killed in clashes in the southern city of Taiz, Hisham al-Jaradi, an activist, said by telephone. The renewed violence comes a day after 16 people were slain in fighting.
Demonstrations began in the Arab world’s poorest country at the end of January, inspired by revolts that ousted the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt. They deepened as military and tribal leaders joined the opposition. Efforts by the Gulf Cooperation Council to broker a power-transfer agreement have failed.
Saleh returned to Yemen on Sept. 23 after three months in Saudi Arabia, where he received medical treatment following a rocket attack in the capital.
Yemen LNG, the country’s liquefied natural gas exporter, halted production yesterday after an attack on a gas pipeline. Attacks against the country’s pipeline network have disrupted exports and caused nationwide shortages since protests against Saleh started.
The loss of production is expected to be limited as the plant was due to shut down on Oct. 23 for annual maintenance, Yemen LNG said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Elsewhere in Yemen, two U.S. drone strikes killed at least seven al-Qaeda militants, including the group’s media chief in Yemen, the Associated Press reported, citing unidentified government officials and tribal leaders.
The Oct. 14 operation killed Ibrahim Mohamed Saleh al-Bana, an Egyptian national and a media officer for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The strikes also killed Abdul-Rahman al- Awlaki, son of the late Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born Islamic cleric who recruited for al-Qaeda and was killed by an American drone aircraft in Yemen Sept. 30, the AP reported.
Yemen has the eighth-largest crude reserves in the Middle East and relies on oil sales for 90 percent of its hard currency earnings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Oil Administration.
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