Sanaa: Despite a state of emergency imposed by the autocratic regime in Yemen, thousands rallied in the capital on Saturday demanding an end to the regime and to show their protest against the sniper attack on protestors on Friday killing more than 52.

The slaughter in the capital Sanaa on Friday afternoon was the bloodiest day in weeks of unrest that has shaken the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key US ally in the war against Al-Qaeda militants on the Arabian Peninsula.

Witnesses said pro-Saleh "thugs" rained bullets from rooftops around a square at Sanaa University, the centre of demonstrations seeking the end of Saleh's 32-year rule.

Many of the victims were shot in the head and more than 120 people were wounded, medics said, in scenes that shocked the world and drew diplomatic scorn from Western powers and human rights monitors.

The toll climbed overnight as six of the critically wounded succumbed to their injuries, according to medics.

Elsewhere on Saturday, witnesses said police shot and wounded an anti-regime protester in the southern city of Aden as they tried to disperse demonstrators demanding Saleh's resignation.
 
Three other demonstrators were injured in the clashes in Aden.

Thousands of people remained camped at the square despite the ill-defined state of emergency, which Saleh announced late Friday as he offered his "regrets" for the killings.

He blamed unidentified gunmen opposed to a Saudi-backed peace initiative and denied that the police were involved.

The slaughter flew in the face of repeated US appeals for restraint and the respect of human rights in the impoverished country, which is also struggling to contain a secessionist movement and a Shiite rebellion.

(Agencies)