Yemen’s president has rejected demands to step down and said widespread demonstrations against his regime are unacceptable acts of provocation.
However, he renewed calls for talks with the protesters.
After a week and a half of marches which have left nine dead, President Ali Abdullah Saleh told a news conference that he had ordered the army to fire at demonstrators “only in case of self-defence”.
Mr Saleh has ruled the poorest of the world’s Arab countries for three decades but the widespread demonstrations are putting heavy pressure on the US ally.
Protesters are occupying a major square in the capital, Sanaa, but Mr Saleh said those who oppose his regime are no more than 200,000 people out of Yemen’s population of roughly 25 million.