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Female anti-government protestors hold banners during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, April 19, 2011. AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

Calls for restraint after four die in Yemen protests

The United Nations has held emergency meetings over the deteriorating situation in Yemen, after four more people were killed in clashes between anti-government demonstrators and security forces.

THE UNITED NATIONS has appealed for the Yemeni government to show restraint after four people were killed and hundreds more were wounded after troops opened fire on protesters in the country’s capital.

Riot police stopped a demonstration in the capital Sana’a and the town of Taiz, during which crowds threw stones and set fire to a security vehicle, Al Jazeera reports.

The United Nations Security Council met late on Tuesday night for a first-ever briefing and discussion about the deteriorating situation in Yemen, where rights groups say two months of protests calling for the president to step down have claimed 120 lives.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters after the closed Security Council meeting that “there were several delegations that wanted instruction from (their) capitals.” Other council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private, identified the countries as Russia and China.

Rice said “several themes emerged, including a call for restraint and an end to the violence” and concerns that the events in Yemen not only have implications for the country’s security and stability but for regional and international peace and security. Diplomats said some members raised al-Qaeda and piracy in this discussion.

The country’s opposition, inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, says nothing short of Saleh’s immediate departure would end the unrest.

Strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea across from lawless Somalia, Yemen is wracked by rebellions, water and food shortages and hosts a deadly local affiliate of the militant al-Qaeda network.

Tens of thousands took to the streets in the capital Sanaa and thousands demonstrated in Aden, Ibb, al-Hudaydah, Taiz and other cities where most of the shops were closed in support of the protesters.

The Sana’a protest turned violent when security forces opened fire, lobbed tear gas canisters, and stun grenades at the protesters as they tried to make their way to the capital’s main thoroughfare. The protesters replied by throwing stones.

Additional reporting by AP