At least seven people died Wednesday in anti-government clashes in Yemen, the AFP reported.

The AFP reported that four policemen and one soldier were killed in Sanaa, where tension remained high near the encampment of a defected army general, Ali Mohsen, whose forces are protecting thousands of anti-government protesters in their tent camp near Sanaa University.

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A source close to Ali Mohsen's forces toward Reuters that troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh had fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the encampment after rebels set up a checkpoint on a road leading to the protest zone.

Mohsen's forces returned fire and battled the pro-government forces for an hour before Saleh's forces retreated, leaving the checkpoint intact, the source close to Mohsen said. In a separate incident in the southern city of Aden, security forces shot dead two anti-government protesters and wounded four more. Protesters had been attempting to erect roadblocks as part of a general strike they vow to maintain until the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Gulf Arab foreign ministers have said they would invite Saleh and his opponents to mediation talks on a transfer of power for the Arabian Peninsula state to end a standoff after two months of street protests.

The opposition initially rejected the plan, but they met ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman on Tuesday to seek clarification on the Gulf mediators' understanding of a proposed "transfer of power".

Opposition sources said they were expecting an answer from the Gulf on Wednesday on the timeframe and details of the plan, and could respond immediately. An opposition source has said talks could start as early as Saturday in Riyadh.

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The situation could escalate into more violence in the heavily armed but impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, where half the 23 million people own a gun.

Further south, at least one person was killed in the southern port town of Aden when police fired shots to stop protesters marching from one district of Aden to another and who hurled rocks at police as they tried to clear makeshift roadblocks, residents said.

Sporadic gunfire continued across the city and security forces, some in armored vehicles and others with water cannon, were deployed throughout..

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