Yemeni anti-government protesters march in Sanaa demanding the trial of Ali Abdullah Saleh on November 26, 2011.

Story highlights

NEW: Medics in Taiz say 12 citizens are killed and 45 hurt in violence there

NEW: The defense ministry says four soldiers also have been killed in that area

Residents blame the attack on forces loyal to ousted President Saleh

Witnesses: Hundreds of additional troops have been deployed in Taiz

CNN  — 

Shelling in the southern Yemeni province of Taiz killed 12 citizens and wounded 45 Thursday, medics said.

The Yemeni defense ministry added that four soldiers also had been killed in clashes Thursday afternoon in the southwestern Yemeni province.

Residents blamed the attack on forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down last month after weeks of protests against his 33-year rule.

“The attacks were everywhere. The government does not care anymore if anyone dies. Everyone who was killed or injured was a civilian and were not bearing arms,” said resident Shareef al-Sabri.

The defense ministry did not comment when contacted.

Taiz residents had been among those calling for Saleh’s ouster, and many believe the attacks on the province are meant to crack down on the opposition.

Eyewitnesses said hundreds of additional troops have been deployed to Taiz. Security forces have set up checkpoints to control entry and exit into the province.

Saleh stepped down after he agreed to a Gulf Cooperation Council-sponsored plan for transferring power in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The deal allows Saleh to retain the title of president for three months, until elections are held, but requires him to hand over executive powers to Yemen’s vice president.

On Saturday, Vice President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi issued a decree setting presidential elections on February 21, state media reported.

Saleh became the fourth leader to leave office as a result of the Arab Spring unrest that has roiled much of the Middle East and North Africa this year.