Rapidly escalating street battles between opponents of Yemen’s regime and forces loyal to its embattled president spread to the home districts of senior government figures and other highly sensitive areas of the capital on Tuesday. A third day of fighting, including a mortar attack on unarmed protesters, killed nine people, medical officials said.
The latest deaths took to at least 60 the number of people killed since Sunday, as anti-regime protesters step up their campaign to topple President Ali Abdullah Saleh and a key military unit supporting them is drawn deeper into the fighting. Saleh’s forces have hit back with attacks by rooftop snipers and shelling of protest encampments.
The violence is forcing more of the capital’s residents to flee to the relative safety of rural Yemen. Scores of pickup trucks and sedans loaded with families and personal belongings could be seen headed out in early Tuesday morning after a night in which loud explosions repeatedly shook the city.
Most of those staying put in the capital are not leaving their homes for fear of snipers or getting caught up in gunfights.
The United Nations said four children were killed by live ammunition in two days of unrest in Yemen.
A spokesperson for the UN childrens’ fund says 18 minors also were injured on Sunday and Monday. Marixie Mercado also said Yemen is “on the verge of a humanitarian disaster” due to lack of food, safe water and the growing risk of disease.