At least 17 people were killed in heavy clashes in the Yemeni city of Taiz Friday, a day after a U.N. envoy began a new mission to push President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit under a Gulf peace plan.
Witnesses and medical staff said at least 30 people were also injured when Saleh's Republican Guards shelled some districts in Yemen's third largest city, a hotbed of anti-Saleh protests, and in clashes some 200 km (120 miles) south of Sanaa.
Opposition tribal fighters, using automatic rifles and shoulder-held rocket launchers, killed two soldiers and wounded seven, according to a Defense Ministry statement. Witnesses said fighters destroyed one armored vehicle in al-Hasab.
Residents said it was some of the most intense shelling since an uprising demanding that Saleh end his 33 years in office began in February.
They said shells fired by government forces landed on houses across the city, killing people inside their homes. Hospital officials said an eight-year-old girl died when a shell crashed into her house in the al-Hasab neighborhood in western Taiz. Her mother was critically wounded.
Four women and two children also died in intense shelling of the al-Rawda and Zaid al-Moshki districts in central Taiz as well as Freedom Square, where the blasts prevented demonstrators from holding their weekly Friday noon prayers. more