Source : New York Times
By NASSER ARRABYEE and LAURA KASINOF 04\06\2011
Six Yemeni officials who were injured Friday during an attack at the presidential palace in Sana were transported to Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment, according to a statement released by Yemen’s official news agency, which added that the country’s wounded president had not left Yemen.
The official Saba news agency said that the president is in “good health.” Government spokesmen on Friday had said Mr. Saleh’s injuries were relatively minor, but he did not make an expected appearance on television, instead releasing an audiotape in which he slurred his words, suggesting that he might be sedated.
The officials who were taken to Saudi Arabia are all very high-ranking members of the ruling party, including the prime minister. The attack, apparently using a mortar or rocket, caused an explosion in a mosque on the grounds of the expansive presidential palace where the men were praying. Seven of the president’s guards were killed in the attack and at least nine people were injured beside Mr. Saleh.
Although Yemenis expressed fears that there would be harsh retaliation for the brazen attack, Sana was quiet on Saturday.
Mr. Saleh has been struggling since January to end street demonstrations against his 33-year rule, but as he has reneged on promises to step down, the challenges to his rule have grown.
Mr. Saleh blamed his tribal rivals, the Ahmar family, for the attack in the audio recording broadcast on state TV on Friday night, and analysts say that the conflict between Mr. Saleh and the Ahmar family, who are supported by the majority of the powerful Hashid tribal confederation, will only grow more bloody. Fierce fighting between the two sides has raged on in the capital for almost two weeks, leaving around 130 dead, including civilians.
The Hasaba district in northern Sana where the Ahmar family compound is located resemble a war zone as mortars and artillery fire have struck houses in the area and most people are staying off the roads.
Impromptu checkpoints manned by tribesmen loyal to the president began appearing late Friday night throughout the capital.
Meanwhile, security forces on Saturday at least temporarily abandoned Taiz, a city in Yemen’s central highlands where protesters and tribesmen sympathetic to their cause have taken up arms against security forces.
After a harsh clampdown last week, when residents said that tanks were deployed in the center of the city, Yemen’s military retreated to their camps on the edges of the city after clashes with armed tribesmen on the streets.
“There are no soldiers in the streets today; no check points inside the city. It’s only the armed tribesmen who came to protect us,” said an activist, Riyadh al-Adeeb.