Protesters subdued by armed police

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Yemeni police block the way as anti-government protesters attend a rally in Sanaa calling for the resignation of president Ali Abdullah Saleh

Yemeni police armed with sticks and daggers beat back thousands of protesters marching through the capital in a third straight day of demonstrations calling for political reforms and the resignation of the country’s US-allied president.

The protests have mushroomed since crowds gathered on Friday to celebrate the ousting of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak after an 18-day revolt fuelled by similar grievances.

Yemen is one of several countries in the Middle East feeling the aftershocks of pro-reform uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Police used truncheons to stop protesters, many of them university students, from reaching Sanaa’s central Hada Square. Witnesses said plain-clothes policemen wielding daggers and sticks also joined security forces in driving the protesters back.

The Ministry of Interior called on people not to heed “suspicious calls for chaos” and to avoid rallies which “obstruct the course of daily life”.

Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh also postponed a trip to Washington scheduled for next month due to the “circumstances in the country,” the state news agency reported.

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