Image: Anti-government protester in Yemen
Muhammed Muheisen  /  AP
An anti-government protester, who claims he was attacked by a government supporter, takes part in a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, on Monday.
By
updated 3/14/2011 2:37:52 PM ET 2011-03-14T18:37:52

Attackers stabbed a Yemeni provincial governor in the neck with a dagger on Monday, and at least 60 other people were wounded in confrontations around the nation between security troops and protesters seeking to topple the country's leader of 32 years.

A month of protests set in motion by the tumult sweeping the Arab world appears to be spiraling out of control in Yemen, already one of the most impoverished and volatile corners of the Arab world.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh — who has faced down threats from an al-Qaida offshoot, a secessionist movement and a seven-year armed rebellion in the north — has been unable to stop street protests that are unprecedented in their scope and in the broad cross-section of society taking part.

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In a sign of his frustration, Saleh fired the government minister in charge of trying to engage his opponents in dialogue.

Violent crackdown
In the eastern Marib province, a predominantly tribal area, protesters staged a large demonstration Monday outside the local government building and shouted anti-regime slogans. Security troops fired live ammunition and tear gas, injuring around 37 people. In the melee, a group of men stabbed Governor Naji al-Zaidi and four bodyguards with daggers, the Interior Ministry said.

In Yemen, many men carry an ornamental dagger tucked in their waistband. The statement held opposition leaders responsible for the attack and other confrontations and bloodshed.

Al-Zaidi was flown by helicopter to a military hospital in the capital, security officials said on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.

With no sign his opponents will accept anything less than his ouster, President Saleh has filled the streets with armed supporters in an increasingly violent crackdown.

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In the southern city of Taiz, police tried to disperse demonstrators with gunfire and tear gas, injuring three people. Clashes in the northeastern province of Jawf injured at least 20 more.

The opposition gained support Monday from striking workers, as well as from university professors and a growing number of powerful tribal chiefs turning against Saleh. The backing of Yemen's tribes is crucial for Saleh, who depends on those alliances to extend his weak government's control beyond the capital, Sanaa.

Slideshow: Political unrest in Yemen (on this page)

The unrest in Yemen is of deep concern to the United States and other world powers, in particular, because al-Qaida has established one of its most dangerous offshoots in the country's mountainous hinterlands. It has launched attacks beyond Yemen's borders, including a failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner in December 2009 with an explosive device sewn into the underwear of a would-be suicide bomber.

Late Sunday, Saleh replaced a government minister who failed to persuade the expanding protest movement to hold talks with the government.

The protesters, fed up with corruption, poverty and a lack of political freedom, have demanded that Saleh step down and have rejected his offers to form a national unity government. Saleh also failed to appease the protesters with a pledge at the start of the unrest not to seek another term in office in 2013.

Journalists deported
Also Monday, two American and two British journalists were deported from the country after being detained for several hours, one of them said.

Briton Oliver Holmes said five armed security agents took them into custody Monday morning from the apartment they shared in the Yemeni capital. He said one of the security agents told them they had to leave because of the stories they were writing.

Yemeni security officials told The Associated Press they were detained for illegally entering the country, without elaborating. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

In the streets of the capital Monday, police and plainclothes security remained locked in a standoff with protesters camped out in a square near Sanaa University. Hundreds more protesters were planning to reinforce them.

The protesters are gaining support from tribal chiefs, senior officials and university professors. About 50 professors from the universities in the cities of Aden, Sanaa and Taiz have resigned from President Saleh's ruling Congress Party.

Amin al-Ukeimi, a leader of the powerful Bakeel tribe, announced Monday that he is joining the protesters in the capital and supported their demand to bring down the regime. Mohammed al-Houri, an undersecretary at the Planning Ministry, also announced his resignation from the party.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: July

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  1. A man prepares the grave of Hassan al-Hora during his funeral at a cemetery in Sanaa, July 19. Fighting between government forces and opposition supporters erupted in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Monday, killing six people, among them al-Hora, opposition sources said. (Suhaib Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz, July 19. (Khaled Abdullah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A girl has ''will not leave'' written on her face during a rally to support Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa July 17. (Suhaib Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Anti-government protestors shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, on Wednesday, July 13. (Mohammed Hamoud / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. An anti-government protester writes slogans on a wall using his own blood during a rally to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh at Tagheer square in Sanaa on July 13. The words read "In my blood I protect Yemen." (Suhaib Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Girls light candles as they attend a rally to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz July 9. (Khaled Abdullah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A Yemeni anti-government protester displays bullets allegedly fired by supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a demonstration demanding Saleh’s ousting, in Sana'a, Yemen on July 8. (Yahya Arhab / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh sit on stone pillars during a rally in support of President Saleh in Sana'a, Yemen, on July 8. Supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh staged rallies around his vacant palace Friday after their leader's first TV appearance since being injured in a blast last month and leaving for treatment in Saudi Arabia. (Mohammed Al-Sayaghi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A supporter of Saleh kisses his picture as his supporters celebrate in Sanaa on July 7 after he appeared on television for the first time since he was severely wounded in an assassination attempt. (Mohammed Huwais / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Saleh delivers a speech from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on July 7, making his first public appearance since he was wounded in an attack on his palace in Sanaa in June. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Anti-government protesters join their hands and shout slogans demanding an end to the 32-year regime of President Saleh, in Sanaa on July 6. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A police vehicle is set ablaze during clashes between armed followers of the opposition and police in the southern city of Taiz on July 6. (Khaled Abdullah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A relative of victims of recent clashes talks to a member of the United Nations human rights investigation team, left, in Sanaa on July 5. The U.N. team arrived in Yemen last week to assess the situation in the country after months of unrest. (Suhaib Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Women recite prayers during a rally to demand the ouster of President Saleh in the southern city of Taiz on July 1. Tens of thousands of Yemenis turned Friday prayers into rallies for and against Saleh, who is recovering from injuries sustained in an assassination attempt in June. (Khaled Abdullah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Man prepares the grave of al-Hora during his funeral at a cemetery in Sanaa
    Suhaib Salem / Reuters
    Above: Slideshow (14) Political unrest in Yemen - July
  2. Image:
    Hani Mohammed / AP
    Slideshow (39) Political unrest in Yemen - June
  3. Image: Anti-government protests in Yemen
    Wadia Mohammed / EPA
    Slideshow (59) Political unrest in Yemen - May
  4. Image:
    Hani Mohammed / AP
    Slideshow (25) Political unrest in Yemen - April
  5. Image: Tens of thousands of Yemenis take to the
    AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (67) Political unrest in Yemen - Earlier photos
  6. YEMEN
    Karim Ben Khelifa
    Slideshow (20) Yemen in the spotlight

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