SANAA, Yemen — Thousands of residents fled the central Yemen city of Taiz Wednesday when government forces shelled the city, killing one person, and two guards were shot dead in the south by Islamist militants, and activist and an official said.
The violence raged despite longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh's agreement to step down. He has been the target of months of protests, and some units of his military have joined the rebels.
Government forces began shelling Taiz Tuesday and continued Wednesday, according to activist Nouh al-Wafi. He said three people were wounded and several shops were destroyed.
Taiz is Yemen's second-largest city and a hotbed of the opposition to Saleh.
The city is often shelled by the army in response to hit-and-run attacks by armed tribesmen and soldiers who support the anti-government protesters.
In the southern province of Aden, a security official said gunmen opened fire on a security officer of the special forces while driving in the Khor Maksar town, killing two of his guards. The officer escaped unharmed.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with security rules, said the attackers were believed to be al-Qaida-linked militants. Yemen has one of the world's most active al-Qaida branches.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis demonstrated in Aden Wednesday on the 44th anniversary of independence of South Yemen from Britain. South and North Yemen merged under Saleh in 1990.
Also, thousands demonstrated in the southern town of Ibb, activist Ahmed Aqil said.
The demonstrators called for Saleh to be put on trial for alleged corruption and killing of protesters during the nine-month uprising.
Saleh signed a U.S.-backed power transfer deal, brokered by neighboring countries, last week in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It transfers power to his vice president and grants Saleh immunity from prosecution.