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Yemen's capital relatively quiet after cease-fire follows 3rd day of deadly violence
SANAA, Yemen (AP) ' Yemen's capital was mostly calm on Tuesday after a cease-fire negotiated by the country's vice president and several Western ambassadors took effect, ending another day of violence that left 10 people dead, security officials said.
After the cease-fire came into force at 4 p.m. local time, only sporadic gunfire could be heard in the city, according the officials and residents.
The truce came on the third day of intensified clashes between opponents of the Yemeni regime and forces loyal to its embattled president. More than 60 people have been killed, most of them protesters, in the three days of bloodshed.
The cease-fire emerged after street battles escalated Tuesday, spreading to the home districts of senior government figures and other highly sensitive areas of the capital. The day's violence included a mortar attack on unarmed protesters and left at least 10 people dead, medical officials said.
The violence came as anti-regime protesters stepped up their campaign to topple President Ali Abdullah Saleh and a key military unit supporting them was drawn deeper into the fighting. Saleh's forces hit back with attacks by rooftop snipers and shelling protest encampments.
The truce was negotiated by Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and several foreign envoys, including the U.S. and British ambassadors in Sanaa, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
In Geneva, the United Nations said Tuesday that four children were killed by gunfire during the unrest on Sunday and Monday. Marixie Mercado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. children's' fund, also said that 18 minors were wounded.
Mercado told reporters in Geneva that the casualties were confirmed by UNICEF's local partners in Yemen.
Yemen's turmoil began in February as the unrest spreading throughout the Arab world set off largely peaceful protests in the deeply impoverished and unstable corner of the Arabian Peninsula that is also home to an al-Qaida offshoot blamed for several nearly successful attempts to attack the United States.
The government has responded with a heavy crackdown.
President Saleh went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment after a June attack on his Sanaa compound and has not returned to Yemen, but he has resisted calls to resign.
After the dawn Muslim prayers on Tuesday, Saleh's forces lobbed mortar shells at Change Square, a plaza at the heart of the city where protesters have held a sit-in since the uprising began.
Medical officials said the shelling killed 10 people, including three rebel soldiers and a bystander.
Clashes between protesters and security forces in the southern city of Taiz left two more people dead, they said. The officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share the information.
Elsewhere in the capital, clashes between protesters and security forces erupted in several districts, with gunfire ringing out in areas close to Saleh's residence and the office of his son and one-time heir apparent, Ahmed, commander of the elite loyalist Republican Guards and Special Forces.
In the upscale district of Hadah, home to senior government officials as well as tribal leaders opposed to Saleh, gunbattles raged between forces loyal to the president's son and bands of tribal fighters opposed to the regime.