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Suspects arrested in Saleh attack as US says vital sea lanes off Yemen secure

National Yemen

Who Tried to Kill Ali Abdullah Saleh?

Yemen said it had arrested several people suspected of trying to kill President Ali Abdullah Saleh whose country, torn by protests against his rule and other conflicts, stands on the brink of civil war. Meanwhile, US and British navies said vital shipping lanes off Yemen’s coast will remain secure despite turmoil.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that President Saleh had thanked Saudi King Abdullah for the care he had received, and quoted Mr. Saleh’s doctor, Mohammed Al Sayani, as saying the president’s health was “good and constantly improving,” according to Agence-France Presse.

There aren’t many foreigners traveling to Sanaa these days, but one group of outsiders is getting a lot of attention: an FBI forensics team, which reportedly arrived last week to investigate the attempted assassination of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is now convalescing in Saudi Arabia.

Evidence from the scene indicates that the explosion may have been caused by a device that was planted inside the mosque on the presidential compound, and not by a mortar shell or rocket, as was initially reported. If true, this means that someone with close access to the president was involved, which raises the question of why members of the Yemeni regime’s inner circle — set to mark its 33rd anniversary in power next month — now appear intent on destroying each other?

Political paralysis and long-standing conflicts with Islamist insurgents, separatists and rebel tribesmen have fanned Western and regional fears of Yemen collapsing into chaos and giving Al Qaeda a stronghold alongside oil shipping routes.

Those conflicts flared anew in two of Yemen’s southern provinces, including one whose capital has fallen to Islamists leading to a round of fighting that has driven most of its population to flight.

Mr. Saleh’s party newspaper said several people suspected of involvement in an attempt to kill him had been arrested and were being questioned, in an apparent reference to the attack that wounded Mr. Saleh and members of his cabinet.

It said interrogation had revealed “important, grave” facts “related to Al Mushtarak”—an element of the Arabic name for the Joint Meetings coalition of opposition parties seeking his immediate departure. The paper gave no further details.

The report followed the collapse of another attempt—with US and European backing—to resolve Yemen’s political crisis, when Mr. Saleh’s deputy ignored the opposition’s demand that the 69-year-old president renounce all claim to power immediately.

A member of the opposition coalition that met Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said he declined to discuss the president’s fate with them.