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Sunday, June 5, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Injured Yemeni president arrives in Saudi Arabia; May not return

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia has provided President Ali Abdullah Saleh a haven in what could defuse civil war in neighboring Yemen.


Saleh, injured in an artillery strike in his palace, has arrived in Saudi Arabia as part of a deal that could end his 32-year rule in Yemen. The Saudi leadership arranged a ceasefire meant to enable Saleh's plane to leave Sanaa for Riyad on early June 5, Middle East Newsline reported.

"He [Saleh] has arrived and was taken to a hospital," a Saudi source said.

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The artillery strike on the presidential palace on June 3 was said to have seriously injured Saleh. Eleven presidential guards were killed and five officials were injured when a rocket struck the mosque in the presidential compound.

"He is in good health and able to make decisions," Yemeni Deputy Information Minister Abdul Janadi said on June 4.

Yemeni Vice President Abdul Rabbu Mansour Hadi was said to have taken over power in Sanaa. Officials said Hadi ordered Yemeni security forces to return to their bases.

Saudi Arabia said it would treat all of those injured in the rocket attack. Officials said that so far Yemen's prime minister, two deputy premiers as well as the speakers of the two houses of parliament were hospitalized in Riyad.

Officials said the president, who withdrew from previous agreements for his resignation, has sustained burns as well as injuries from shrapnel. They said they could not assess how long Saleh would remain in Saudi Arabia.

"The rocket was devastating," Yemen's ambassador to Britain, Abdullah Ali Al Radhi, said. "It was a clear assassination attempt against the president."

The Yemeni opposition said it would honor the Saudi-arranged ceasefire. But opposition sources said they were concerned that the regime would remain under control of Saleh's sons.

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