SANAA — Yemeni security forces shot dead six anti-government protesters and wounded 50 in Sanaa and Taez on Wednesday, medics said, as Gulf states urged all sides to sign up to a proposed transition plan.
Security forces and plain-clothes gunmen opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who marched from Sanaa's University Square, the focal point of protests in the capital, towards government headquarters, witnesses said.
They fired when demonstrators got to within 200 metres (yards) of the government building, which is about one kilometre (just over half a mile) away from the square.
Two protesters were killed and 45 wounded, medics said.
One of the dead was shot in the chest "near his heart," a medic at a field hospital in University Square told AFP.
The wounded were mostly hit in the neck or head, he added.
The other protester succumbed to wounds at the Kuwait Hospital, near the square, medics said.
"Snipers took part in attacking the protest," another witness said.
The interior ministry said in a statement that protesters attempted to break security cordons to "storm the (building) of the radio and the government headquarters."
It added that opposition gunmen positioned in a nearby building opened fire, which resulted in the death of one person and the wounding of others, the official Saba news agency reported.
Earlier, security forces killed two protesters and wounded five after opening fire on demonstrators in the city of Taez. That brought to seven the number of protesters killed since Sunday in Yemen's second-largest city, according to a tally by medics.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters took to the streets after the first protester was killed on Wednesday, marching towards several government offices in the city and forcing their closure, witnesses said.
They also marched towards the Yemen Petroleum Co, locked its gate with chains and put up a banner saying: "Shut by the people."
The interior ministry denied there were any deaths in Taez.
A protester was shot dead in the Red Sea port city of al-Hudayda when police opened fire to disperse a demonstration near the provincial headquarters, a medic and witnesses said.
Another protester was killed by police in Dhamar, 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Sanaa, as security forces opened fire on a demonstration, medics and witnesses said.
In Ibb, also south of the capital, hundreds surrounded provincial offices plastering a similar poster on its entrance.
For days, teachers demanding better pay and postponement of final exams have been staging a sit-in outside education ministry offices. They were joined by hundreds of anti-government protesters.
In the capital, thousands gathered for a solidarity rally, chanting: "We will sacrifice our souls and our blood for Taez."
In the main southern city of Aden, security forces opened fire on protesters who have blocked roads in an attempt to observe a strike which the organisers have called for every Saturday and Wednesday.
Two protesters were wounded by live rounds, witnesses told AFP.
Shops closed in most of Aden, as sporadic gunfire was heard across the city, an AFP correspondent reported.
A similar strike was observed in several other southern provinces -- Lahij, Shabwa and Abyan.
The latest deaths came as the neighbouring Gulf states urged all sides in Yemen to sign up to a transition plan aimed at ending months of political bloodshed.
"The council urged all parties in Yemen to sign the agreement, which is the best way out of the crisis, and spare the country further political division and deterioration of security," heads of state of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council said after a Riyadh summit on Tuesday.
Gulf leaders discussed the bloc's mediation efforts, which stalled in the face of veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh's refusal to sign up to proposals that would require him to stand down within a month.
Saleh has been insisting that any transfer of power should be in line with the constitution, which would allow him to serve out his term until 2013.
The GCC plan proposes the formation of a government of national unity, Saleh transferring power to his vice president and resigning after 30 days, a day after parliament passes a law granting him and his aides immunity.
Last month, GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani travelled to Sanaa to invite members of the government and the opposition to sign the transition plan in Riyadh and to obtain the president's signature, but he returned empty-handed.
More than 150 people have been killed in anti-government protests since late January.
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