Sanaa: At least 10 people were killed on Saturday in fierce clashes in Yemen's capital between President Ali Abdullah Saleh's troops and rival forces in escalating violence, a day after the UN Security Council urged the embattled leader to hand over power.

Witnesses in Sanaa said explosions were heard throughout the day in Sanaa, and massive plumes of smoke and fire were seen rising from several neighbourhoods where opposition forces are stationed.

One correspondent said ambulances raced out of the Hasaba district that is home to tribal Chief Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar and his brothers, whose tribesmen have been battling Saleh's troops for weeks.

The war-torn district has become a ghost town, sealed off by Saleh's troops, with no one allowed in or out, according to the correspondent on the scene.

Medical officials said five civilians were killed during intense shelling north of the Hasaba district in Sanaa.

Five dissident soldiers were also killed and dozens of others were wounded, including unarmed civilians, in clashes and shelling throughout the capital, they added.

In Taez, Yemen's second-largest city, clashes erupted between armed men who claim to protect protesters, and pro-Saleh troops, injuring at least three people, pro-democracy activists in the city said.

Dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who defected in March in support of anti-government protests sweeping the country, blamed Saturday's violence on Saleh and called on the international community to intervene.