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Yemen's Saleh charges diplomats duped by opposition, spreading falsehoods about conflict
SANAA, Yemen (AP) ' Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh charged Sunday that foreign diplomats have been misled by the country's opposition and are conveying false information about the situation in Yemen.
Saleh's criticism came before a scheduled meeting this week at the U.N. Security Council to discuss a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and transfer of power.
On Sunday Saleh's security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least seven.
Addressing military officials, Saleh said the foreign ambassadors, "move from one opposition to the other, collect information and consider the information they get from the opposition as they if they are the victim whom they should support."
Saleh clings to power despite more than nine months of street protests, inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
He has balked at signing a deal backed by his powerful neighbors and the U.S. in hopes of providing a smooth transition of power. Under the agreement, Saleh would resign and hand power to his vice president in return for immunity from prosecution.
According to a Yemeni foreign ministry official, the Gulf Cooperation Council, which initiated the power transfer deal, has turned down a request by Saleh to make changes to the deal to enable him to stay in power until 2013. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
In his speech, Saleh described the opposition as "insane (people) who can't sleep and only want to take power."
Saleh's remarks, broadcast on Yemeni state TV, came as his security forces fired at protesters marching through the capital and a southern city, killing at least five people, according to a medical official.
Mohammed al-Qubati, the director of a field hospital at Sanaa's main protest site dubbed "Change Square", also said four civilians and at least 37 people were wounded in the violence there.
Witnesses said snipers on rooftops opened fire on the crowd of tens of thousands of protesters, marching through the streets to call for Saleh's resignation.
Loyalist forces of the Republican Guard, a unit led by Saleh's son Ahmed, also lobbed tear gas at the demonstrators.
Witnesses said that the Republican Guard clashed near Change Square with the anti-government troops of renegade army general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who defected and joined protests months ago. Two of al-Ahmar forces were killed.
In a statement, Al-Ahmar described Saleh as "the ignorant man who does nothing but killings."
Saleh's security forces also tried Sunday to disperse a large protest in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz, killing one woman and injuring seven other people, medical officials there said.
On Saturday, security forces fired on a huge rally of some 300,000 people in Sanaa, killing at least 12 protesters and wounding some 300.