Sana'a: At least seven people, including four policemen, were killed during clashes with a dissident army unit, as hundreds of thousands of anti-regime protesters rallied across Yemen on Wednesday.

"Police attacked an army checkpoint in Amran province killing one officer and wounding two soldiers," a military official told AFP. The unit operates under the command of Major General Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, who has sided with the protesters and accused regime supporters of trying to kill him.

In the south of the country, soldiers shot dead two anti-regime protesters and wounded nine others in different parts of Aden, medics and witnesses said.

"The president, who is known for his political manoeuvring skills, seems to be banking on prolonging talks and allowing the country to slip into chaos, something that would embolden Al Qaida and go against US interest," a source said.

Five people were killed in clashes in southern Yemen on Wednesday as police fired shots and protesters hurled rocks at security forces, witnesses said.

Residents told Reuters police fired shots in the port town of Aden to break up protests. Security forces, some in armoured vehicles and others with water cannon, were deployed throughout the city.

The clashes appeared to have started as police tried to clear makeshift roadblocks, a Reuters reporter in Aden said.

The protesters are demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule. A proposal by Gulf Arab states to negotiate a power transition appears to have stalled.

The situation could escalate into more violence in the heavily armed but impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, where half the 23 million people own a gun.

An opposition delegation, which initially rejected the plan by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), met the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait on Tuesday.

They sought clarification of what is meant by a proposed "transfer of power" which does not specify a timeframe for Saleh to step down.

With input from Reuters