SANAA, Yemen, April 18 (UPI) -- At least four women were beaten and eight men arrested for marching together to protest Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime, a rights activist said.
The human rights activists blamed the actions on extremists and troops who defected, Gulf News reported Monday.
"Extremists from the Islamist party, Islah, and soldiers from the defected troops of General Ali Mohsin have mercilessly beaten up the women and men who were marching together late on Saturday near the university," said human rights activist Abdul Rashid Al Faqih. "No activists in the history of modern Yemen have been beaten up like these women activists."
The Yemeni general prosecutor ordered investigations into a complaint filed on behalf of hundreds of women claiming Saleh defamed them in a speech Friday in which he called for women to be separated from men during sit-ins because "this is not Islamic." His comments were decried by many activists.
The eight men detained were released after sit-ins at a military facility of the defecting troops, Gulf News reported.
In Sanaa's Change Square, Yemeni security forces fired live ammunition at protesters, injuring 11, witnesses told CNN. Protests were staged at the Yemeni capital and other cities and towns across the country.
"We were being shot at directly," protester Abdullah Kulaibi said. "Security forces were trying to kill us and not disperse us."
SABA, the state-run news agency, reported at least 14 soldiers were injured during the protests against Sunday's opposition Joint Meeting Parties in Sanaa. The Joint Meeting Parties earlier sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia, where mediators are hoping to broker an agreement.
Also, three journalists reported receiving death threats for criticizing cleric Abdul Majid Al Zandani.