After noon prayers today, government supporters fired live rounds at anti-government protesters gathered at Sana'a University's new campus. Attendance at the sit-in, which has lasted for the better part of the past month, has numbered in the tens of thousands with some reports reaching 100 thousand. By the end of the afternoon upwards of 40 were left dead.
I first realized something was happening when I heard the helicopter flying overhead. I was sitting in the rooftop mafraj drinking tea when I went out on the patio to take pictures. The helicopter wasn't particularly concerning as it often flies around on Friday's to observe the protests. About an hour later two of the other students joined me. One of them pointed out a column of smoke rising in the distance from the direction of the university. An unconfirmed report said that tires were set fire to deter more protesters from joining the sit-in. We could hear the faint report of gunfire.
Later in the afternoon Saleh declared a state of emergency. This to me seems like another attempt to convince Yemenis and/or outsiders that his rule is needed to preserve the country's security. Today's violence seems calculated so that he could later declare a state of emergency (one that most believe he is responsible for creating) in the desperate hope that protester's would be scared off and those non-aligned Yemenis would come to see them as a threatening nuisance.
As for me, the pictures show that I am a long way from where all of this is happening, and in the pas,t weekend violence has been followed by a relative peaceful work week. The increased violence concerns me but as long as it remains localized to Sana'a University and targeted at protesters only, I feel safe. There have been no violent actions or words directed at foreigners or those not directly participating in the university protests.