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Yemen's Saleh refuses to step down, streets erupt (VIDEO)

US orders non-essential diplomats to leave.

Heavy explosions rocked Yemen's capital early Thursday as fighting continued for a third day despite calls by President Obama for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down and avoid a civil war.

Amidst the violence, the United States called for al its non-essential diplomats and family members of embassy staff to leave Yemen, the BBC reports.

"The explosions can be heard across town in the south of Sanaa. This seems to be heavier weapons than the machine guns and the mortars of the past few days," a resident told Reuters Thursday, referring to the country's capital.

Government forces clashed with anti-Saleh tribesmen, who seized Yemen's state-run news media, the Los Angeles Times reports. The fighters recently captured the interior and trade ministers.

Fighting in Sanaa has left more than 40 dead since Monday.

Pressure has been building in Yemen since January when protesters began camping out and demanding Saleh step down. It then turned into violent unrest.

The recent violence comes just after Saleh pulled out from a Gulf Arab-brokered deal for him to step down for the third time. The deal would have had Saleh step down within 30 days.

Analysts say Saleh has long been known as being a "devious and unpredictable ruler," the New York Times reports. Though his recent moves and decision to back out of a deal for the third time have been extreme.

“Even by his own standards of what is rational, he is not being rational,” an American official told the Times.

Saleh blames the tribesmen for the violence; they blame the government for causing what could amount to a civil war.

Obama has not called directly for Saleh's resignation, but Wednesday he pushed Saleh "to move immediately on his commitment to transfer power." He also said the United States supports a deal brokered by an alliance of Yemen's neighbors, the Los Angeles Times reports.