New York Times reports at least 40 Dead, 200 Injured in Protests
Updated 4:58 p.m. -- President Obama issued his strongest statement yet calling for restraint by the regime of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in response to pro-democracy protestors calling for Saleh's ouster.
"I strongly condemn the violence that has taken place in Yemen today and call on President Saleh to adhere to his public pledge to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully," Obama said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Protests following Friday prayers in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa turned violent with Al Jazeera English reporting 30 dead and more than 200 wounded among the young protestors in a scene one witness described as a massacre.
"Those responsible for today's violence must be held accountable," Obama said.
"The United States stands for a set of universal rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly, as well as political change that meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people," he continued. "It is more important than ever for all sides to participate in an open and transparent process that addresses the legitimate concerns of the Yemeni people, and provides a peaceful, orderly and democratic path to a stronger and more prosperous nation."
Al Arabiya reported 42 dead and 300 wounded in the clashes after "pro-regime loyalists and police opened fire on protesters."
The New York Times put the figure at "at least 40."