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Yemeni President Survives Blast, Accuses Defectors, Opposition Leader

SANAA, June 3 (Xinhua) — Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh delivered a speech late Friday after shells fired by gunmen of an opposition tribe hit the presidential palace, injuring him and several senior officials.

In his speech aired on Yemen Satellite TV, only voice without appearance, Saleh accused outlaws of attacking his palace, saying they are gangsters who had no relationship with the pro-change-and- freedom protests.

Army soldiers stand guard as anti-government protesters shout slogans at a barrier blocking a demonstration demanding the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa June 3, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

“What happened today was a conspiracy by defectors and (the opposition leader Hamid) al-Ahmer, but we will pursue them,” said Saleh.

“The attackers are just subversives who commit sabotage, occupy public offices and make explosion in many parts of the republic. They never seek proper change, like the youths on the streets,” Saleh said.

Saleh assured the Yemeni people in his speech that he is very well. Furthermore, Saleh revealed that seven people were killed in the blast and other senior officials got only light injuries.

A government official said on condition of anonymity that the president suffered an injury in the back of his head, “his injury is not that serious and not that light,” said the official.

Besides Saleh, Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mujawar, deputy Prime Minister Rashid al-Alami and Parliament Speaker Yahya al-Raiee and several other senior officials were wounded in shells hit the walls of a small mosque inside the presidential palace, while the leaders and officials were performing the Muslin weekly prayer in Sanaa on Friday, a security official told Xinhua.

Noman Duwaid, governor of capital Sanaa, had one of his hands and one of his legs cut off and deputy Prime Minister al-Alimi got serious injuries also, said the security official, adding that they are all being treated in the 48th Hospital within the Defense Ministry’s compound.

“The Republican Guards and special forces were quickly responded with shelling al-Ahmar’s compound in Hadda district, a few miles from Saleh’s palace,” added the official.

Big explosions were heard near the palace compound after the attack, with eyewitnesses saying that the houses of al-Ahmer, a prominent opposition leader, were heavily shelled.

The fresh development came as two-week long fighting between the government forces and armed tribesmen loyal to opposition tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar spread to the north, west and south of Sanaa.

Sounds of explosions and shootings were still heard in Sanaa as many civilians prepare to evacuate immediately.



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