Sanaa: A powerful Yemeni tribal leader warned on Tuesday against attacks on anti-government protesters as hundreds of thousands rallied in the capital Sanaa and several other cities calling for regime change.
Yemen has been gripped by a six-month political crisis, with near daily street protests demanding longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.
Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, who in March joined the uprising against Saleh, warned the army not to attack thousands of students camped out close to Sanaa University. A youth group said earlier that the government is preparing to storm the camp.
Meanwhile, a small group of Saleh's supporters, including women and children who live close to the students' camp, demonstrated in front of the presidential palace demanding the camp be emptied out.
They carried banners claiming their daily lives have been disrupted by the camp's proximity.
One banner read: "The people want the tents to be moved," a play on words on the opposition's popular slogan, "The people want the president to leave."
Saleh has clung to power, refusing to cave in to demands for his ouster although he remains hospitalised in Saudi Arabia, recovering from wounds sustained in a June 3 attack on his presidential compound in Sanaa. He has left his sons, relatives, close associates and loyalists in charge back home.
The youth group behind the university protest said in a statement on Tuesday that the government is inciting families who live close to the square where the students are camped out to demonstrate against them. Since Yemen's uprising erupted in February, the students have dubbed the location "Change Square."