Attack on Yemen opposition camp kills 17

Sep 24, 2011, 5:13 p.m.
Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa September 24, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

He was also quoted by state news agency Saba as calling for Sanaa to be cleared of "all armed elements" and for checkpoints and barriers to be removed.

Six protesters were killed in Saturday's attack, according to a doctor at a mosque converted into a field hospital. Also killed were 11 soldiers from Mohsen's First Armored Division, the general's office said.

"I was doing my night (guard) shift and suddenly I heard all these explosions and I realized we must be getting shelled. The next minute, a mortar fell near me and exploded, I'm covered in shrapnel," said Yussuf al-Hamzy, 20, a Mohsen soldier.

Dozens of wounded streamed into makeshift clinics overnight.

Protesters in the opposition encampment on the 4-km stretch of avenue dubbed Change Square said buildings and tents were on fire and that protesters had retreated about half a kilometer.

Protesters escalated their marches in Sanaa this week by entering territory controlled by state forces, triggering a battle between loyalist and pro-opposition troops. About 100 protesters were killed in five days of bloodshed.

Many Yemenis thought they had seen the last of Saleh when he flew to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment after a bomb explosion at his palace left him with severe burns.

He had been involved in negotiations mediated by six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- to leave office. He had repeatedly promised to step down, only to change his position at the last minute.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Sudam and Martina Fuchs; Writing by Reed Stevenson; Editing by Ralph Gowling)

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