SANAA: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was “slightly injured” during an attack on the presidential palace in Sanaa Friday, Al Arabiya reports. The country’s prime minister and speaker of parliament were also injured in the attack. Four presidential guards were killed.
This comes as tens of thousands of Yemenis held a mass funeral Friday for 50 people killed in regime-sponsored violence in the capital. Heavy shelling expanded into new sections of the capital. At least 155 people have been killed in street battles over the past ten days, About 370 have been killed since the uprising began.
Soon after Friday prayers, witnesses said heavy shelling rocked the commercial neighborhood of Hadda in southern Sanaa. Residents fled to basements for cover. One witness said the target appeared to be the home of a tribal notable and brother of the tribal leader whose forces have been in a confrontation with by forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh for two-weeks. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity fearing retribution.
In the south, activist Bushra al-Muktari said security forces opened fire on protesters in the city of Taiz. She said two protesters were injured. She reported scattered small rallies across the city after their main protest camp was broken up violently this week.
The city was locked down, and travelers barred from entering the city. Mohammed al-Said said he and his family escaped the violence in Sanaa to Taiz, only to be left waiting on the outskirts of the city since daybreak.
For months, youth-led protesters have sought to peacefully oust Saleh, but their campaign has been overtaken and transformed into an armed showdown between Yemen’s two most powerful families, the president’s and the al-Ahmar clan. The al-Ahmar family heads the country’s strongest tribal confederation, which has vowed to end Saleh’s 33 years in power.
Violence in Sanaa escalated to new heights overnight as shelling expanded beyond the neighborhood where al-Ahmar clan chief lives. Gunbattles also raged in the northern Hassaba district, the center of fighting that began May 23 and has since spread to other parts of the city.
Troops attacked and burned the headquarters of a private TV station owned by one of the 10 al-Ahmar brothers. A building housing an airline office also was set alight. On Friday, shelling moved to the southern side of the capital. The witness said the target was the home of another of the al-Ahmar brothers.
As the country slid deeper into an all-out fight for power, thousands of tribesmen were poised to descend on Yemen’s capital to join the battle against forces loyal to Saleh.
Despite the gunfire and shelling, protesters swarmed into a Sanaa main street for Friday prayers and funeral processions. During the Friday sermon, the imam said Saleh was trying to convert the revolt from a popular uprising into a personal conflict between him and the tribal chief Sadeq al-Ahmar.
The president “wants to overturn this revolution and show the world that it is a conflict between al-Ahmar and Saleh,” Imam Taha al-Mutawakil told the crowd. A young man speaking to the crowd said the Friday gathering also meant to show support for the protesters in the southern city of Taiz. “By declaring war on the Yemeni people, Saleh’s regime is committing suicide,” the man said in a microphone.
The protesters distributed leaflets in the crowd, giving them instructions on how to deal with the recurrent shelling, particularly in the middle of the night. “Keep your cool. Keep the windows open, shut off the gas and water, go to the basement.”-Online