Three killed in Yemen violence

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2011 4:33 PM
Three killed in Yemen violence

By Mohamed Sudam

SANAA (Reuters) - Gunfire and shelling in the Yemeni capital Sanaa killed two people on Sunday, medics said, two days after the United Nations issued a resolution condemning the violence and urging President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

A third person was killed in the southern city of Taiz during protests demanding an end to Saleh's 33-year rule, while street fighting between state troops and soldiers and tribesmen siding with the opposition showed no sign of slowing.

At least 14 soldiers were injured on Sunday, including five aligned with top general Ali Mohsen, who defected from Saleh in March and threw his weight behind the protesters. Demonstrators accused government snipers of shooting at their camp in Sanaa.

"There are one dead and six injured due to firing in the south of Change Square at dawn," said Dr Mohammed al-Qubati, the head of a field hospital in the camp, earlier on Sunday.

Government and opposition traded blame for the death of a young girl who was killed when a shell landed on her family's house, also injuring her mother, witnesses said.

A nine-month confrontation between Saleh and a fractured opposition of student protesters, tribal leaders and dissident army factions has escalated in recent weeks after a three-month lull.

Saleh has thrice backed out of signing a Gulf-brokered transition plan that would see him leave office and says he will only transfer power to "safe hands."

On Friday the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution condemning the crackdown on protesters and urging the veteran leader to sign a deal proposed by Gulf states which would see him step down in return for immunity from prosecution.

The Arab League in a statement on Sunday welcomed the resolution, calling on Saleh to quickly sign the Gulf intiative and allow its implementation to begin.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators set off on a protest march on Sunday from Change Square, the street intersection next to Sanaa University on the capital's ring-road where the opposition has set up camp.

In Saturday's clashes, five soldiers loyal to the opposition and five civilians were killed, witnesses and Sanaa residents said.

State news channels said five soldiers and three civilians had been killed, blaming the violence on non-government militias.

Rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and automatic weapons were used in the al-Hasaba, Soufan and al-Nahda districts of northern Sanaa, where soldiers loyal to the opposition are based.

(Reporting by Mohamed Sudam; Writing by Angus McDowall and Isabel Coles; Editing by Andrew Roche)