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Twelve killed in Yemen protest

Twelve protesters were killed when Yemeni security forces opened fire on a massive anti-government demonstration in the capital Sanaa.

Another 190 were injured as about 100,000 opponents of the government filled a square at the centre of the uprising on Wednesday, spilling into the streets around the state TV building.

Security forces, including members of the elite Republican Guard, fired live ammunition and tear gas into the crowd to break it up. Snipers were seen on nearby rooftops aiming at the crowd.

Doctor Mohammed al-Ibahi said: "Many of the dead and wounded were shot in the head and torso."

Demonstrator Nashwan al-Badani said: "We were massing peacefully along the state television building and suddenly I heard so much gunfire whizzing by, People began to panic and fall to the ground as they stampeded to escape the shooting."

Yemenis in at least 18 cities and towns launched a civil disobedience campaign in an escalation of their more than two-month-old uprising to bring down long-serving president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Shops, schools and government offices were shuttered. The closures are planned twice-weekly until Saleh steps down, activists said.

Inspired by revolts across the Arab world, Yemenis have staged near-daily protests calling for the ousting of Saleh, the country's ruler of 32 years.

At times, millions have flooded the streets of the capital and other cities and towns. The president has clung to power despite the street protests and defections by many loyalists, including his tribesmen, military officers and senior officials.

Security forces and Saleh supporters have killed more than 130 people since the unrest erupted in early February.

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