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      Six Killed in Sanaa Violence as Saleh Holds Fast

      Violence has erupted in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa for the first time since President Ali Abdullah Saleh was taken to Saudi Arabia for treatment.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 7/19/2011, 5:22 PM / Last Update: 7/19/2011, 9:36 PM

      Yemen's capital Sanaa on Monday erupted into violence as six were killed in clashes between government forces and protesters, Gulf News reports.

      It is the fist fighting to break out in Sanaa since President Ali Abdullah Saleh flew to Saudi Arabia for treatment after he was wounded in a failed attempt to assassinate him in June.

      One of the clashes in Sanaa reportedly began when demonstrators seeking to increase pressure on Saleh to quit marched outside a square where they have been camped for months..

      "Hundreds of youths marched out of the sit-in area, but were confronted by security forces and gunmen in civilian clothes who fired on them. They killed one protester and wounded eight others," a source who declined to be identified told reporters.

      On the outskirts of Sanaa, a family of five was killed by shelling during clashes between Republican Guard forces and pro-opposition tribesmen, opposition and tribal sources said.

      Fighting in South

      Meanwhile, in Yemen's south, a military offensive to retake a provincial capital seized by Islamic terrorists stretched into a third day.

      The army says it killed 23 Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic terrorists on Monday, three days into an offensive to retake the coastal city of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province.

      Abyan has been plunged into daily violence since militants captured the city of Jaar in March and took Zinjibar last month. Some 54,000 people have fled from the province.

      Saleh Holding Fast

      The United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of foiled attacks by Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have tried to lessen the turmoil by pressing Saleh to accept a transfer of power plan put forward by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.

      Saleh, who previously backed out of the GCC plan, remains adamant he will return to Yemen to lead a dialogue with the opposition and oversee a transition, but critics say this is a stalling tactic to buy time so he can find a way to continue his 33-year rule.

      In a letter published in state-backed newspapers on Monday, Saleh said the country needed a national dialogue to overcome its political crisis.

      "We stress the importance of dialogue that depends on peaceful means to solve our problems no matter how difficult and complicated they are, just as we stress solving our differences through democratic methods," Saleh wrote.

      Saleh's stance places him at odds with US officials and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council who want to see calm in Yemen.