11 die as Yemeni troops fire

Violence has escalated in the Arab world’s poorest country following nearly nine months of a popular uprising seeking to oust longtime autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

International diplomacy has failed to stop the crisis, with Saleh repeatedly refusing to sign a US-backed proposal by Yemen’s powerful Gulf neighbours.

In the meantime, security across the country has broken down and clashes between government forces and army units who have joined the uprising regularly shake Yemeni cities.

In the country’s south, al-Qaeda-linked militants have taken over entire towns, raising Western fears they’ll use the area as a staging ground for international attacks.

The deaths came as government troops started shelling the city center in Taiz early today, said the medical official.

Taiz, a hotbed of the opposition, has been particularly violent recently, with government troops regularly clashing with soldiers who have defected and sided with the anti-Saleh protesters.

In the capital Sanaa, tens of thousands of demonstrators held competing rallies for and against the regime.

In one area, regime supporters chanted “the people want Ali Abdullah Saleh”, a transformation of the chant “the people want to topple the regime” that became famous during the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, which successfully toppled those countries’ dictators.

Gunfight, raids kill 13 in Syria

Syrian security forces fired on anti-government protests on Friday and conducted sweeping raids during violence that killed at least 13 people. The bloodshed came as Human Rights Watch accused the regime of crimes against humanity. The UN estimates 3,500 people have been killed since the uprising began in mid-March.

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