As many as 1,600 people have been injured in the Yemeni city of Taiz after police reportedly used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse pro-democracy protesters in the city's main square, Al Jazeera has learnt.
A sit-in was held in the square on Sunday as part of nationwide anti-government protests. According to witnesses, police also opened fire above the heads of protesters, and used batons to disperse the crowds.
Medical sources said most of the injuries were from tear gas inhalation.
"It was a peaceful demonstration. It became dangerous because of the tear gas. It’s shameful to fire at peaceful protesters," one protester told Al Jazeera.
Governor Hamoud al-Soufi denied reports that one person had been killed in the clashes. He also said eight soldiers had been killed after clashes between "infiltrators" among protesters and some citizens forced riot police to intervene.
The protest came a day after an opposition coalition called on Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power to his deputy, Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The coalition has released details of their initiative for a peaceful transition of power, according to Al Jazeera's sources.
As part of his interim duties, they called on Saleh's deputy to reorganise the central and national security as well as the Republican Guard, the forces currently loyal to Saleh and controlled by his son and nephews.
Hadi was appointed by Saleh as Yemen's vice-president after the civil war in 1994.
He is well regarded by the opposition, and the negotiations between the president's advisers and the opposition took place at his house in Sanaa.
By accepting someone from the ruling party to lead in the interim, the opposition appeared to send a message that it is willing to be flexible about finding a solution.
The move is also likely to help the coalition win support of residents of southern Yemen, where Hadi hails from.
The suggestion to appoint him as the country's leader has come as no surprise, but so far, the president has rejected every offer that requires him to leave office before the end of the year.
There has been no reaction from the president or the ruling party so far.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies