* Yemenis await U.N. pressure on Saleh to step down
* Saleh says banks on China, Russia at Security Council
* Violence rises with attack on gas pipeline
(Adds more deaths, Saleh's comments)
SANAA, Oct 16 Eight Yemenis, including five
protesters, were killed in a new upsurge in violence in the
capital on Sunday, hospital officials and witnesses said, and
President Ali Abudllah Saleh said he expected China and Russia
to block U.N. moves to end his rule.
The two countries joined forces to veto a European-sponsored
resolution against Syria earlier this month but were not
expected to block the resolution on Saleh which is due to go to
the Security Council this week, diplomats in New York have said.
Yemeni security forces fired on protesters, killing at least
five people in the capital Sanaa on Sunday, hospital officials
said, in violence which took the death toll in two days to at
Two brothers and a nephew died in a separate incident in
Sanaa when a shell fell on their house in al-Qaa neighbourhood,
witnesses said. They said the shell exploded during clashes
between security forces and anti-government fighters.
Witnesses said security forces attacked the protesters when
they tried to enter Zubayri Street, which lies between areas
controlled by government forces and dissident general Ali
Residents said the authorities feared protesters could block
off the street, a major throughway for traffic.
"Until now, we have four martyrs and 13 injured by bullets,"
said Dr. Muhammad al-Qubati, head of a field hospital set up by
protesters on Sixty Street in the capital Sanaa, where thousands
have camped out for months demanding Saleh end his 33 years in
Security forces also killed a 52-year-old woman during
protests in the southern city of Taiz, medical officials said.
SURGE IN VIOLENCE
Violence in Yemen, strategically located at the southern tip
of the Arabian Peninsula, has surged over the last two days,
with security forces killing at least 12 on Saturday while al
Qaeda insurgents blew up a gas pipeline, halting the
impoverished nation's gas exports.
U.N. Security Council members are considering a resolution
expected to urge Saleh to hand over power under a Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) peace plan.
Saleh says he is ready to step down but wants to ensure that
control of the country is put in safe hands.
"Some friendly states, permanent members of the (Security
Council) such as China and Russia, will not take a hardline
position like some other permanent members," Saleh said in
comments broadcast on Yemeni state television.
Speaking at a meeting of his security and military chiefs in
Sanaa, he said Western permanent members of the Security Council
based their decisions on information gathered solely from the
"They consider the opposition as being aggrieved and that it
should be supported," he said.
Britain has been drafting the resolution in consultation
with France and the United States and intends to circulate it to
the full 15-nation Security Council shortly after a closed-door
meeting on Tuesday.
Yemeni officials have said the attack on the pipeline on
Saturday was in retaliation for the killing of the head of the
media department of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in an air
raid on militant outposts in Yemen last week.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which shares a border with Yemen,
fear al Qaeda is trying to take advantage of the country's
political vacuum to expand its territory in the south of the
Arabian Peninsula, near a strategic shipping strait used by
tankers carrying some 3 million barrels of oil a day.
(Reporting By Mohammed Sudam; writing by Nour Merza; editing by
Sami Aboudi and Philippa Fletcher)