Yemen’s Saleh ‘stable’ after attack

National Yemen

President Saleh at Jabal Saber in Taiz city

Medic says president’s condition is “of no cause for concern” after surviving attack on his compound.

Yemen’s prime minister and other senior officials hurt in an attack on the presidential palace have been transferred to Saudi Arabia for treatment, the state news agency SABA says.

But the condition of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, was “of no cause for concern”, a medic told AFP news agency on Saturday, after officials said he was “lightly wounded in the back of the head”.

Shells hit a mosque in the presidential palace compound on Friday as officials, including Saleh, were praying.

Saleh was “stable” and treated at a hospital in the capital, Sanaa, the medic said, while other injured officials, including the speakers of both houses of parliament, were taken to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, where hospitals are better equipped than in Yemen.

An audio recording attributed to Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been broadcast on state television, hours after an attack on a mosque in his presidential compound. Yemen state media say the attack killed three guards and an imam.

The voice of what appeared to be a subdued President Saleh was heard thanking his fellow Yemenis for their concern about his condition, which he said was alright.

He also wished a speedy recovery to others injured in the attack, and offered his condolences to the families of those killed. Saleh was wounded in a rocket attack Friday in the presidential mosque in Sana’a during midday prayers. He reportedly is being treated in a military hospital.

The strike, the first on the president’s compound, came during fierce street fighting between government troops and tribal forces in the capital and violence in other Yemeni cities, bringing the unrest to the heart of the government.

Shortly after the attack, officials said Saleh would appear at a news conference, an apparent bid to dispel opposition and some media reports that the president had been more seriously injured or possibly killed.

Deputy Information Minister Abduh al-Janadi later went on state TV to explain the delay.

Janadi said Saleh is in good health, and the news conference was postponed because of the “scratches” that the president received. His statement was at odds with comments by a Yemeni diplomat appearing on Arabiya television, who said Saleh was in the front row in the mosque, where the heaviest casualties occurred and might spend four weeks in the hospital. It was not clear from the audio recording which account better reflected the situation.