Gunfire and shelling rocked Sana’a for the third straight day yesterday as the toll from the worst outbreak of violence in Yemen’s capital in months spiraled to 60 dead with hundreds wounded.
The violence has hampered attempts by regional and international mediators to clinch a power transfer deal between political rivals, with the opposition saying it would not negotiate “while blood is flowing in Sana’a.”
Fighting between dissident military troops and those loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh broke out at dawn and raged into the morning, leaving seven people dead, medics and witnesses said.
“Four civilians and three soldiers from the First Armored Brigade were killed,” a medical official said, referring troops belonging to defected General Ali Mohsen.
A brief lull that lasted only a few hours during the night was followed by fierce battles involving automatic gunfire and shelling, witnesses said.
Republican Guard troops, commanded by Saleh’s son Ahmed, shelled posts held by Mohsen’s troops around Change Square, epicenter of the anti-regime protests that have shaken Yemen for months, witnesses said.
Change Square was targeted by mortar rounds and anti-aircraft fire, with one witness describing it as the “heaviest shelling” yet and saying it “lit the sky over the square.”
A shell also hit Al-Iman University near the square, killing one and wounding three others, university spokesman Ayed al-Zindani said.
Meanwhile, mortar rounds fell near the field hospital set up at Change Square in which six people were wounded, activist Walid al-Amari said.
Later in the day snipers and security forces opened fire on demonstrators who tried to march toward the Kentaky crossroad, where the office of Ahmed Saleh is located, witnesses said.
Medics at the Change Square field hospital reported dozens were wounded in the attack, but could not yet provide specific figures.
Protest organizers said the numbers of demonstrators camped in an area stretching about 3km from Change Square to al-Zubair Road had swelled to nearly 150,000. The figures could not be verified.