Since Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh left for Saudi Arabia to seek medical treatment after an assassination attempt in June, things had been relatively quiet in Yemen. Saleh remained in power, but there were talks about a transition.
The last two days, however, have been some of the bloodiest and deadliest in the nine-month standoff as government forces opened fire on protesters. Here's how The Guardian describes today's scene in Sanaa:
On Monday night Yemen's capital, Sana'a, was a desperate scene of gunfire and chaos as the standoff between anti-regime activists and government forces spilled over into violence that observers say could spread to other parts of the country.
Witnesses said government troops stationed throughout the central city and snipers perched on rooftops were responsible for much of the carnage, which has caused more than 50 deaths since Sunday, with hundreds more injured.
After earlier clashes on Monday, security forces launched an intensive sweep through central areas of the capital, which had been a focal point for protesters.
As fighting intensified demonstrators appear to have overrun a compound of presidential guards inside the capital, then moved on to other parts of the city.
In a straight-forward piece, the BBC explains the politics in the country. In short, what happened is that from Riyadh, on Sept. 12, Saleh gave authority to his deputy to negotiate a transition deal, but like many times before, movement stalled. Then on Sunday, when protesters took to the streets to demand a transition, authorities opened fire.
That further stressed relations between security forces loyal to Saleh and those loyal to the General Ali Moshin, who has been on the side of the protesters. The sides have been fighting and civilians — including at least one child seen in news photographs — have been caught in the crossfire. Reuters reports the two sides declared a cease fire earlier today, but "gunfire and explosions" were still heard in Sanaa.
Reuters puts the death toll at 56.
If you're interested in following this story closely, NPR's Andy Carvin has been covering the action on Twitter. You can follow him @acarvin.