Activists say the dead were killed in fighting between Saleh forces and tribesmen or were shot during attacks on protesters in Sanaa in the last few days.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis are holding a mass funeral for 50 people killed in recent violence in the capital by forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Young men carried the bodies in a mass procession as Yemeni protesters gathered in a main street in the capital ahead of Friday prayers.

Activists say the dead were killed in fighting between Saleh forces and tribesmen or were shot during attacks on protesters in Sanaa in the last few days.

Shelling rocked a southern Sanaa neighbourhood soon after Friday prayers. Witnesses said government forces were targeting the home of a tribal chief in the area, previously off limits.

Overnight shelling was described as the heaviest in a two—week showdown between government forces and their tribal rivals.

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