Opposition parties said they will form their own transitional assembly if Saleh does not step down [Reuters]

Hudreds of Yemenis have once again rallied in the capital, Sanaa, calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

The protesters also said on Thursday that while they wanted Saleh to quit, they were not against continued mediation by neighbouring Gulf nations, despite the offer being rejected by opposition politicians.

However, youth groups, which make up the bulk of protesters, have previously rejected elements of past deals by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including the prospect that Saleh could be immune from
prosecution.

But regardless of a Gulf offer, youth groups say their main aim was for Saleh to leave office.

"Our strategic goal is the departure of Ali Abdullah Saleh. When Ali Abdullah Saleh leaves, we will co-operate
with the joint coalition, with Abd-Rabbu Mansour [vice-president], we will co-operate with our Arab brothers and the international community for the benefit of Yemen," protester Safwan Al-Manoufy told Reuters news agency.

Vice-president Mansour Hadi has been acting leader of the country since Saleh left for medical
treatment in Saudi Arabia for wounds he sustained in a bomb explosion inside the presidential palace in Sanaa.

Despite ongoing protests, Hadi has not given in to pressure to form an interim council.

Opposition parties have said they will form their own transitional assembly if Saleh does not cede power but it
is not clear whether those parties have any significant influence over many of the protesters.

Fresh attack

Amid the political deadlock, violence continued in the country's south. On Thursday, masked gunmen attacked buildings near the city of Huta, local residents said.

The group, which Yemen's military described as al-Qaeda fighters, temporarily took over a security forces administrative building and council offices in Masameer district, residents told Reuters.

"There was a long battle with the security forces," one resident said, adding that the gunmen retreated after ammunition was finished.

The attack comes a day after three guards were shot dead when armed men stormed three other state buildings in Huta itself.

Southern separatists and al-Qaeda fighters are both active in the region.

Source: Agencies