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Will Yemen's fierce fighting push protesters to take up arms?

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The fighting spread on Tuesday to the neighborhoods of Yemeni government officials, and rockets and shells rained down on the makeshift protest camp in Sanaa's Change Square. An unnamed Yemeni official told the Post that the civilians killed were caught in crossfire and not deliberately targeted. He also said that the protesters had been throwing Molotov cocktails.

On Monday, a UN envoy and a representative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a regional bloc, arrived in Yemen to work out a transfer of power agreement, the BBC reports. Regional and international bodies have been trying since the spring to work out a deal in which Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is recuperating in Saudi Arabia from a June assassination attempt, steps down and gives his vice president the authority to form a national unity government. In exchange, Mr. Saleh and many of his former officials would receive immunity from prosecution.

Saleh has given his deputy the authority to negotiate on his behalf, but whether talks will go any further is unclear. The president has backed out of three previous deals at the last minute, and protesters see this latest promise to negotiate a deal as yet another stall tactic. Saleh has long played Yemen's diverse factions against each other, using a divide-and-conquer strategy to stay in power for 32 years.

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