Yemen has succumbed to political paralysis in the months since President Ali Abdullah Saleh fled to Saudi Arabia for treatment following an assassination attempt, as opposition groups fail to dislodge the wounded leader from power. On Sunday, that paralysis gave way to what The New York Times is calling the worst violence in Yemen since March. Twenty-four people died after Yemeni security forces fired on advancing demonstrators in the capital, Sanaa, sparking fierce battles between army defectors, government troops, and armed and unarmed protesters. The Times explains that the violence, which has killed at least 20 more people today, threatens to torpedo any hope that was left for a peace deal between Saleh and his opponents and raises the specter of civil war--a constant fear during the past eight months of unrest.
There may be no clearer window into the renewed chaos in Yemen than on Twitter, where journalists and activists are providing firsthand accounts of the bloodshed. Laura Kasinof, the author of today's article in the Times, is tweeting about gas lines, traffic jams, and the symphony of beeps, sirens, and gunfire around her. One hour ago, a rocket-propelled grenade landed one block from her. Freelance journalist Tom Finn has been tweeting horrifying footage from a field hospital in the capital, at one point hiding from gunfire inside a shop with a Reuters journalist who also filed a report today. He's telling stories of a 10-month-old girl who died after being hit in the head by a stray bullet while her father was shopping, and of a "tearful doctor" who grabbed Finn by the arm and begged the international community to halt the bloodshed in Yemen. "Can barely describe what I'm seeing," Finn wrote a couple hours ago. "Dead people everywhere. Even children." Freelance journalist Adam Baron agrees that the "sheer gore of injuries" at the hospital is "literally numbing," but he also observes that "Yemenis are unsinkable." One friend's mother pulls him aside at the field hospital and invites him over for dinner and nargila. He catches another "fearless (crazy?)" woman standing at the edge of the fighting, "shouting curses" at the Arab League.
Here's footage of clashes in Sanaa yesterday between security forces and protesters, via Al Jazeera: