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Yemeni forces shell city of Taiz, 3 killed

MYT 4:15:00 PM

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni government forces shelled the city of Taiz overnight, killing at least three civilians, medics said, while politicians raced to implement a Gulf-brokered plan that eased former President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office last week.

Saleh finally gave in to international pressure and 10 months of protests against him, handing power over to his deputy to end 33 years of rule, during which he enmeshed family, friends and allies in the nation's economy and military.

The plan's sponsors hope it will halt a slide into civil war on the doorstep of the world's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and prevent al Qaeda's regional branch from jeopardising shipping routes through the Red Sea.

But the deal has so far failed to stop bloodshed in the impoverished Arab state.

"We are living in an atmosphere of real war. We couldn't sleep from the intensity of the blasts. We came to the aid of five residents of the quarter, whose house a shell landed on," resident Abdullah al-Sharaabi told Reuters by telephone.

Medics at al-Rawdah hospital said three civilians had been killed and several injured, while staff at a field hospital in Taiz said it had received ten injured civilians. Taiz, Yemen's commercial capital, is located some 200 km (120 miles) south of the capital Sanaa.

"Saleh's forces, which are concentrated in various parts of the city, fired shells on al-Manakh and al-Hasab Wabeer Basha districts and the shelling continued until the early hours of Thursday morning," said lawyer Tawfeeq al-Shaabi, an activist in the protest movement.

Meanwhile, the opposition said it had submitted to the country's interim leader Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi a list of its chosen representatives for a military council tasked with running the army until a new president is elected.

Presidential elections have been set for February 21 next year.

"We gave Hadi a list of seven representatives of the opposition and they include the former defence minister and the former interior minister, along with five other senior army leaders who declared their support for the protest movement demanding Saleh leave," an opposition source told Reuters.

Under the Gulf initiative signed by Saleh, a body will be set up to restructure the armed forces. Saleh's son Ahmed commands the Republican Guard, one of the best equipped units.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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