Troops loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, have opened fire on protesters in Sanaa, killing at least 26 people and injuring hundreds.
Tens of thousands of protestors calling for an end to president Saleh’s 33-year rule took to the streets of the capital a day after protesters stormed Yemen’s main university.
Mohammad al Qadhi, a Yemeni journalist, said government snipers had fired on demonstrators from rooftops
“I talked to one of the protestors. He told me shots were fired on chests, legs, and other parts of the body,” he said.
Witnesses said security forces and armed civilians opened fire on protesters who left Change Square, where they have camped since February demanding regime change, and marched towards the city centre.
They also used water cannons and fired tear gas, they added.
Freelance journalist Tom Finn said he counted at least 16 bodies piled up in a mosque and most of them were shot in the head.
“Most of them are under 22. I saw one that was 16 years old,” he said.
“There are three hospitals in Sanaa filled to the brim with the injured. One doctor said he expects the death toll to rise over 50 by tomorrow morning.”
Earlier on Sunday, government trooops fired mortars into Al-Hasaba district in Sanaa, home to an opposition tribal chief.
Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar said his fighters did not return fire after they were shelled by the Republican Guard.
Ahmar said he did not want to give Saleh any excuse not to sign a deal to transfer power.