Five Protesters Shot Dead by Saleh Loyalists in Yemeni Capital

Loyalists of Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh shot five people dead in the capital Sanaa on Thursday, after they protested against a power transfer deal that promises Saleh immunity from prosecution, medics said.

The five were all killed by live rounds, medics at a field hospital set up in the capital's Change Square, where protesters have been camped out since February, said.

Thirty-four others were wounded, the medics added.

The protesters were met by gunfire from armed men in plain clothes, who they deride as Saleh's "thugs," as they marched toward the city center.

The activists, who spearheaded 10 months of protests against Saleh's rule, had called for a mass rally to protest against the promise of immunity granted under an agreement with the parliamentary opposition, which the veteran president signed in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Wednesday.

The protesters also chanted slogans against the Common Forum parliamentary opposition bloc led by the Islamist al Islah, or Reform, party.

"Common Forum, Islah, leave after the assailant," they shouted, referring to Saleh, who is expected to go straight from the Saudi capital to New York for medical treatment.

After the attack, the marchers returned to Change Square as pro- and anti-Saleh gunmen were deployed across the capital, sending tensions soaring, residents said.

In Yemen's second-largest city, Taez, another center of the protests against Saleh's 33-year rule, "hundreds of thousands" took to the streets with similar demands Thursday, protest organizers said.