Yemen: Bloodbath in Sanaa as Saleh Returns

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

Yemen has been witnessing increased and unprecedented violence in the past few days. Ibrahim Mothana tweeted on September 18th:

@imothana: The brutality and violence used against protesters in Sanaa today is unprecedented!! #Yemen

A hashtag #SanaaMassacre was used by Yemeni tweeps to report updates on the violence used by the regime to crack down on unarmed protesters in Change Square in Sanaa. @crazyyafi tweeted on September 22:

@crazyyaffi: The number of people killed in the past 4 days in #Yemen has surpassed 100 and is continuing to rise. #yemen #SanaaMassacre #SupportYemen

Fatima Saleh also included the figure of injured reported.

@tota770: #AJA Reporter: Death toll raised since Sunday reaching 100 dead and more than 700 injured who were shot by the regime forces #Yemen #YF

Among the 100 killed were children, the youngest being Anas a 10-month-old baby who was shot by a sniper while he and his older brother were in his parents parked car, in front of a store. This video [WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT] shows his injury and portrays the tragedy.

Yemen woke up on Friday, September 23, at dawn to the news on state TV announcing the return of President Ali Abdulla Saleh to the country, after three months of recovering in Saudi Arabia from an assassination attempt in June – a very unexpected and unwelcome return.

Mauritanian activist Naser Weddady expressed anger at the US and Saudi Arabia, both major players in Yemen's politics for allowing such a return – a sentiment which was shared by many netizens:

@weddady: if the world's fears in #Yemen are about Al-Qaeda, then letting the country under Saleh is the best help AQAP: ENJOY!

@weddady: Allowing Ali Abdallah Saleh to return to #Yemen is criminal.

Almuraisy replied saying:

@almuraisy: Unlike expectations, protesters at change square celebrate the return of Saleh to be tried of his crimes #Yemen :)

As usual with every Saleh TV appearance, let alone his return home, there were the celebratory gunshots by his supporters. Yet tanks and heavier weapons were reportedly used this time which resulted in deaths and injuries. A child as this video [WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT] shows was also hurt.

Millions of protesters across Yemen took part in the “Friday of Confidence in God's Victory” demonstrations. Yemeni protesters have given each of the 33 Fridays since their revolution has started a different name. Saleh was given the shoe treatment in the Friday protest in Radaa, where protesters raised their shoes to greet his return. (Video posted by: 11119801)

Mobarak Alsharafi tweeted what State TV quoted Saleh as saying:

@Mo_Alsharafi: “I return to the nation carrying the dove of peace and the olive branch,” Saleh was quoted as saying by state television. #Yemen

Although Saleh words claimed he came in peace, which the protesters could not believe, his actions proved that he came with a vengeance. His return only intensified the violence turning it from a massacre of protesters to a genocide. Only a few hours after his arrival, 18 people were killed and 53 were injured, following yesterday's Friday prayers.

Abdullah Obal, an opposition leader, said he believed Saleh “returned to run the war and drive the country into an all-out civil war.”
Abdulkader Alguneid, who lives in Taiz and is familiar with Republican Guards daily shelling on his city, remarked:

@alguneid: Now, certainly, #Saleh will start shelling #Sanaa residential areas, from far away. That's what he is good at. #Yemen

During a night raid on Change Square in Sanaa many reported the atrocities in their tweets:

Alaa Jarban tweets:

@AJYemen: #Saleh forces are burning houses & tents in change sq. now. Protesters r dying, dead bodies b/c of missiles r all over the streets! #Yemen

Waleed Saqaf adds:

@wsaqaf: #Saleh orders storming #Tagheer Square in #Sanaa, #Yemen, a massacre is in the making, corpses, blood & panic everywhere!

Michelle Shephard from the Toronto Star notes:

@shephardm: Just awful reports about shelling, fires & continued violence in #Sanaa tonight after #Saleh made surprise return… #Yemen.

NPR's Andy Carvin was horrified of a video from the carnage and warned:

@acarvin: Horrible, *horrible* graphic footage of a severely wounded child in #Yemen. Consider carefully before viewing.

Yemeni protesters urged tweeps to expose Saleh's crimes.

@crazyyafai: Retweet so the world knows: #Saleh is storming sit in square burning tents & slaughtering peaceful protesters at this moment. #yemen

He cynically tweeted:

crazyyaffi: #Saleh has finally decided to come back and kill all #Yemenis & then become a president of the biggest grave in the world. #yemen

Fatima Saleh summed the eventful day in a tweet:

@tota770: what a day , started with explosions and news of #Saleh's return, ended with storming change sq and shelling youth #Yemen #yf

Clearly, Saleh's first day was not a peaceful one. Far from it, it was rather very bloody! Yemeni brace themselves and expect more of the unreserved violence in the coming days.

Today, September 24, marches are planned across 17 governarates to condemn these crimes. A series of world wide silent protests entitled #SupportYemen – Silence Kills! is also scheduled today in different cities of the world and in Yemen to condemn the media and International Community's silence towards Yemen's revolution which has allowed Saleh to continue his crimes against his people and humanity.

This post is part of our special coverage Yemen Protests 2011.

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