A clash in Yemeni capitol of Sanaa between pro-government forces and those loyal to an opposition figure who defected has led to the deaths of at least five people.
The rivals reportedly exchanged machine gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades.
The defector in question is former army general, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a relative to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has now switched sides. His military units are protecting anti-government protesters.
In addition, two people were killed in the city of Aden during a conflict between state security forces and anti-government demonstrators.
Protesters are seeking the removal of longtime Yemeni president Saleh. They are now also opposed to a peace proposal from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries which apparently provides Saleh and his family with immunity from prosecution.
The [GCC] initiative does not clearly mention the immediate departure of the head of the regime and it did not touch on the fate of his relatives who are at the top military and security agencies that continue killing the peaceful protesters,” the anti-government Civil Alliance of the Youth Revolution said in a statement.
The GCC offer also provides for the transfer of power from Saleh to his deputy, although it envisions to timetable.
For his part, Saleh has agreed to the GCC plan, as long as it is carried out “constitutionally.”
Yemeni opposition groups reportedly will confer with Persian Gulf ambassadors to iron out a more definitive plan to ease Saleh and his cronies out of power.
The United States, which has long valued Saleh as an ally in its conflicts against al-Qaeda terrorist groups, has also quietly suggested the president should quit.