Yemen situation unclear after President Saleh leaves

Confusion reigns in Yemen after President Ali Abdullah Saleh flew to Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment, a day after he was wounded.

Questions are being asked whether Mr Saleh - who has several times promised to give up power - will return, a BBC correspondent in Yemen says.

His departure leaves him in a much weakened position.

An uprising demanding that Mr Saleh leave power has led to violence bringing Yemen close to civil war.

Yemen's acting president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, is to meet members of the military and Mr Saleh's sons, al-Arabiya television is reporting, quoting sources.

Mr Saleh flew to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday on a medical plane to seek treatment for injuries sustained in a rocket attack on his presidential palace.

Uncertainty surrounded his whereabouts for much of Saturday.

Sources in Yemen told the BBC that Mr Saleh had a piece of shrapnel below his heart and second-degree burns to his chest and face. A Gulf nation diplomatic source told BBC Arabic that the decision to transfer Mr Saleh to Riyadh was taken after Saudi doctors consulted with a German medical team.

Sources close to President Saleh have confirmed to the BBC that some members of the family have left the country with him, including his wife. His son, Ahmad, his nephews, Tarik And Yehia, are reported to still be in the country.

Reports also say the prime minister and other ministers are in Riyadh for treatment.
Ceasefire reported

Mr Saleh and several senior officials were praying at the al-Nahdayn mosque inside the presidential compound in the south of Sanaa on Friday afternoon at the time of the attack.

The mosque was originally thought to have been hit by rockets, but there are now suggestions someone may have planted a bomb there.

The president broadcast an audio message on Friday after he was wounded, but did not appear in public.

In the broadcast, he blamed the attack on an "outlaw gang" of his tribal foes - an accusation denied by Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, the head of the Hashid tribal federation, whose fighters have been clashing with security forces.

More than 160 people have been killed in the fighting that began on 23 May and has brought Yemen to the brink of civil war.

The prominent Ahmar family has been financing the opposition and helping sustain protesters, who have been demanding Mr Saleh's resignation since January despite a crackdown that has left at least 350 people dead.
Damage to the mosque in the presidential palace in Sanaa where President Ali Abdullah Saleh was wounded - 4 June 2011 The attack on the mosque left seven of Mr Saleh's bodyguards dead and several officials wounded

Western and regional powers have been urging Mr Saleh to sign a Gulf Co-operation Council-brokered deal that would see him hand over power to his deputy in return for an amnesty from prosecution.

He has agreed to sign on several occasions, but then backed out.

With Mr Saleh out of the country, it is not clear who is in charge. The constitution calls for the vice president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to take over, including command of the armed forces and security services.

But Mr Saleh's son Ahmed commands the elite Republican Guard and other relatives control security and intelligence units.

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