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Yemeni security forces shot dead at least 17 protesters

When the Gulf states offer mediation efforts and the U.S. is rumored to withdraw support for the President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"The number of deaths reached 17," said Sadeq al-Shujaa, the head of an emergency hospital in the central square Taez, after security forces opened fire on demonstrators who were marching towards the local governor's office, AFP reported.

Some witnesses said the demonstrators stormed the governor's office pages and armed men dressed as civilians and snipers on the roof of the building opened fire to force them to retreat.

The bloodshed, which occurred a day after a protester was shot dead in Taez, 200 kilometers from Sana'a, Yemen's capital, making the death toll to over 100 in crackdown of protests in the country since late January.

With the number of deaths continues to increase, Saleh, old ally Washington in the war against Al-Qaeda, apparently losing U.S. support.

The U.S. government took part in efforts to negotiate the resignation of Saleh and handed over power temporarily, according to a report in the New York Times, Sunday.

U.S. officials consider Saleh's position can no longer be maintained because of the widespread protests and he had to leave the presidency, the report said. Negotiations regarding the resignation has been done for more than a week.

Meanwhile in Sanaa, on Monday, the soldiers from a number of unit commanders in favor of protesters intervened to prevent some 200 police who will take action against thousands of demonstrators who camped since February in a square in central Sanaa.

Countries oil-rich Gulf states on Sunday night, they seek mediation between Saleh and opposition demanding his resignation.

Yemen's opposition urged Saleh to end three dasawarsanya and handed power to his deputy authority to the transitional period, but the proposal was rejected by the veteran leader on Sunday.

Washington has warned that the fall of Saleh as the key U.S. ally in the war against Al-Qaeda will cause "real threat" to the U.S..

Yemen is the ancestral state of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and until now still facing separatist violence in the north and south.

North Yemen and South Yemen formally united to form the Republic of Yemen in 1990 but many in the south, which is where most of Yemen's oil, said that the unification of north using it to control the natural resources and discriminate against them.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen urged people not to listen to calls for secession, which he says the same as treason.

Western countries, especially the U.S., increasingly concerned over the threat of extremism in Yemen, including the activities of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The U.S. military commander has proposed 1.2 billion dollar budget in five years to Yemeni security forces, reflecting the growing concern over the existence of Al-Qaeda in the region, said The Wall Street Journal in September.

Western countries and Saudi Arabia, Yemen's neighbors, worried that the country will fail and Al-Qaeda take advantage of the chaos to strengthen their grip on the impoverished Arab country and turn it into a place to launch further attacks.

Yemen into the world spotlight when the regional wing of Al-Qaeda of masterminding a bomb attack AQAP states fail against U.S. passenger plane on Christmas Day.

AQAP states at the end of December 2009, they gave Nigerians suspect "means that technically sophisticated" and told Americans that more attacks will occur.

Analysts fear that Yemen will collapse due to the Shia uprising in the northern region, the separatist movement in the southern region and the attacks of al-Qaeda. Poor country that borders Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporting country.

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