An activist from the protest organizing committee told AFP that there were dissident soldiers among the victims of the violence that rocked several neighborhoods across Sana’a on Saturday.

“More than 40 people were killed on Saturday” in the battles, the activist said.

Earlier Saturday, pro-Saleh troops opened fire on an anti-regime protesters’ camp at Sana’a’s University Square, now called Change Square, which has been the epicenter of anti-government demonstrations since January.

Elite Republican Guard troops, commanded by President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son Ahmed, attacked the camp of the First Armoured Brigade north of Change Square and killed 11 defected soldiers and wounded 112 more, a dissident military spokesman said

“The camp was targeted by 60 shells,” said the spokesman.

Fierce fighting between Yemeni security forces and dissident troops has left 173 people dead since last week, AFP said.

Seventy-eight people have been killed since Saleh returned on Friday after three months in Saudi Arabia, despite his call for peace in the restive country.

As gun battles raged across the capital, hundreds of thousands set out in a massive demonstration from Change Square, witnesses said.

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have held regular anti-regime protests in major cities across the country since January to demand an end to Saleh’s three decades of rule.

Protesters have also been demanding an end to poverty and widespread corruption as well as an end to Saudi and US meddling in the country.

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