The government forces used bulldozers and live rounds in Taez, Al Arabiya reported citing its correspondent.
Yemen’s security forces have been launching a crackdown campaign against anti-regime protesters in the southern city of Taez. Thousands of demonstrators have been camped out at the square to demand the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Al Arabiya photographer, Mahmoud Taha, was among those arrested by the Yemeni forces.
According to Reuters, police fired live ammunition, tear gas and used water cannons to disperse more than 3,000 demonstrators protesting outside a municipal building near Freedom Square to demand the release of a fellow protester who was arrested on Saturday.
Al Qaeda-held Zinjibar
They also said the army is shelling the city with artillery.
Four Yemeni soldiers were earlier killed and dozens injured in what appeared to be an ambush as they were travelling to Al Qaeda-held city of Zinjibar, a security official said on Monday.
Several hundred Al Qaeada and Islamist militants took over the Gulf of Aden city a few days ago and have been battling locals and government soldiers who are trying to regain control.
Fighting in Sana'a
There were no immediate details on the explosions, which appeared to have partially breached a truce between Mr. Saleh’s forces and the powerful Hashed tribe led by Sadeq al-Ahmar in the bloodiest fighting since unrest erupted in January.
Mr. Ahmar condemned what he described as Mr. Saleh’s “new massacre” against civilians in Taez. Earlier on Sunday, his men handed back control of a government building to mediators as part of a ceasefire deal.
A breakaway military group called for other army units to join them in the fight to bring down the 65-year-old president, piling pressure on him to end his three-decade rule over the destitute country of 24 million.
Despite global and regional powers demanding he step down, Mr. Saleh has refused to sign a deal, mediated by Gulf States, to start a transition of power aimed at averting civil war that could shake the region that supplies the world with oil.
“We call on you not to follow orders to confront other army units or the people,” the breakaway units said in a statement read by General Abdullah Ali Aleiwa, a former defense minister.
Opposition leaders separately accused Mr. Saleh of allowing the city of Zinjibar, on the Gulf of Aden, to fall to Al Qaeda and Islamists militants in order to raise alarm in the region that would in turn translate to support for the president.
Residents in Zinjibar, about 270 kilometers (170 miles) southeast of the capital, said armed men likely from Al Qaeda had control of the city in the flashpoint province of Abyan.
“About 300 Islamist militants and Al Qaeda men came into Zinjibar and took over everything on Friday,” a resident told Reuters.
Three militant gunmen and three civilians have been killed in fighting against locals, who have been joined by a few government soldiers, trying to take the city back from the Al Qaeda group and Islamists, medical sources said.
Nearly 300 Yemenis have been killed over the past few months as the president has tried to stop pro-reform protests by force.
Generals and government officials began to abandon President Saleh after deadly crackdowns on protesters started in force in March. There have been no major clashes yet between the breakaway military units and troops loyal to Mr. Saleh.
Opposition groups and diplomats have accused Mr. Saleh of using Al Qaeda threat to win aid and support from regional powers seeking his government’s help in battling the militants.
Fears are growing that Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) will exploit such instability, analysts said. The United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of attacks by AQAP, are worried that growing chaos is emboldening the group.
Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and sits along a shipping lane through which about 3 million barrels of oil pass daily.
(Abeer Tayel, an editor at Al Arabiya, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)