Yemen’s President Blames ‘Gang’ for Attack

Posted June 3rd, 2011 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has blamed a “gang of outlaws” for a rocket attack on Friday that killed seven people and left him wounded.

Yemeni state television broadcast his audio message late Friday, hours after rockets hit his presidential compound in the capital, Sana'a.

Mr. Saleh said that he was well and in “good health.” However, he said seven people were killed in the incident. Earlier, state news reports said three guards were killed and the imam had been wounded.

Western media accounts quoted an opposition report saying that Mr. Saleh and other officials were attending prayers at a mosque in the compound at the time of the attack.

The White House strongly condemned the surge in violence in Yemen. Also, the U.S. State Department released a statement that called for an immediate end to hostilities and fulfillment of an Arab Gulf peace plan that calls for Mr. Saleh's departure.

Residents in the capital remained barricaded behind closed doors as fighting raged in Sana'a after dusk on Friday.

Earlier, clashes between President Saleh's forces and loyalists to an opposition tribal leader, Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, escalated with the destruction of the headquarters of an opposition TV station in Sana'a.

Reports said fighting in the capital had expanded into new neighborhoods, and opposition tribesmen were traveling to Sana'a to take part in the fighting. Government forces reportedly shelled al-Ahmar's tribal headquarters after the mosque attack.

The rising chaos is reportedly pushing the conflict closer to all-out civil war. Government troops are said to have killed 50 opposition members in fighting this week.

Yemen is engulfed by multiple conflicts, with street battles raging in Sana'a, popular unrest by anti-government demonstrators throughout the country and fighting against Islamist militants who have seized the southern city of Zinjibar.