Badly injured Saleh unlikely to return soon

Many fear that if Mr Saleh is given a chance to return, his comeback would reignite the fighting in the capital as opposition tribes try to oust him

Yemen's wounded President was yesterday said to be in a much graver condition than previously thought after an attack on his compound last week prompted him to flee from the country.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is receiving medical treatment in a Saudi hospital, is said to be suffering burns to 40 per cent of his body, bleeding in his skull and a collapsed lung, serious injuries that suggest he will be unable to return to Yemen soon.

Unusually, information regarding the extent of his injuries has been leaked from Washington, possibly in an effort to counter claims from Mr Saleh's aides that the President is in good health and intending to return to Yemen to resume his post.

His injuries are likely to bolster efforts by the United States and Saudi Arabia to persuade Mr Saleh to accept a deal that would see him hand power to his Vice-President in return for immunity from prosecution.

As news of Mr Saleh's injuries filtered out, some 4,000 protesters marched on the residence of Yemen's deputy Vice-President, Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi, urging the acting leader to form an interim council that would form a new government and stymie a comeback by the President. "The people want to form a transitional council, we will not sleep, we will not sit until the council is formed," the protesters chanted.

William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, joined the calls yesterday, urging Mr Hadi to "begin political transition now". Many fear if Mr Saleh is given a chance to return, his comeback would reignite the fighting in the capital as opposition tribes try to oust him.

Mr Saleh, 69, was wounded on Friday when an explosion shook his compound in the capital, Sana'a, killing 11 of his bodyguards and injuring officials and advisers. The Hashid tribe, which was engaged in daily clashes with Mr Saleh's forces in the two weeks prior to the attack, has denied involvement.

Although his departure was greeted with jubilation in Yemen, where a popular uprising has called for his ousting since January, it left the country with a power vacuum. Analysts say the longer there is no solution, the greater the risk that conflict between Yemen's heady mix of regime loyalists, radical Islamists, secessionist rebels and armed tribes will plunge the country into a civil war.

The West has watched with alarm Yemen's slide into bloodshed, fearful that the chaos will allow a potent franchise of al-Qa'ida, which is entrenched in Yemen's lawless south, to thrive.

Heavy fighting erupted across Yemen yesterday, with regime troops claiming to have killed 30 Islamic militants whose allegiance remains unclear, including a local al-Qa'ida commander who had seized the coastal town of Zinjibar 10 days ago. Fifteen soldiers were also killed, a local official said.

Mr Saleh's opponents had accused the President of deliberately allowing Islamic militants to take over the town, enabling him to demonstrate the security risks faced by his departure.

Tribesmen and armed dissidents have reportedly taken control of Taiz, the scene of a brutal crackdown by regime loyalists on pro-democracy protesters two weeks ago, apparently to prevent the youth-led movement from further attacks.

But clashes continued, and a shell that landed in a residential area killed four people, including three children.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Pre-Press / Mac Operator / Artworker - Digital & Litho Print

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: With year on year growth and a reputation for ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Live Virtual Training / Events

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Manager is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003