SANAA, Yemen – Hundreds of Islamic militants cemented control over a town in southern Yemen on Sunday, even seizing army tanks, military officials said, while breakaway army units encouraged other military forces to switch their loyalties and join the uprising.
The growing number of defections in the military posed the most serious threat yet to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s three-decade grip on his country.
A leader of the breakaway forces, Maj. Gen. Abdullah Ali Elewa, appealed to other units to join.
Elewa, a former defense minister, was one of nine military officers who signed the statement, named “Statement Number One” in the style of a military regime, though the officers are not in power. The group included leaders of four of Yemen’s five military divisions.
Saleh labeled them “traitors” and “war mongers.”
Also, witnesses in the southern city of Taiz said security forces attacked protesters camped out in the central square with rifles and water cannons in an attempt to clear the area. Doctors said 150 people were taken to hospitals with injuries.
Greeks protest austerity measures
ATHENS, Greece – About 30,000 people protested in Athens’ central Syntagma square on Sunday against the government’s tough economic austerity policies.
The demonstration appeared to be the first that resulted from spontaneous calls over social media sites such as Facebook. Many others have been organized by unions or political factions.
Pointing at Parliament and its 300 legislators, many of Sunday’s protesters chanted “Thieves! Thieves!” Others shouted slogans against Prime Minister George Papandreou and the International Monetary Fund.
No violence was reported and few police were on the scene.
On Sunday, Papandreou warned against “sirens” calling for Greece to default on its debt. Speaking to an audience of local officials in western Greece, Papandreou said it is “foreign taxpayers’ money” that has allowed his nation to continue paying public sector salaries and pensions.
Reforms are painful, but they are starting to pay off and the economy will return to growth in 2012, he said.