Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh sustained minor head injuries Friday (June 3rd) after two missiles hit a mosque inside the presidential compound in Sanaa during Friday prayers.
Local news reports indicated the prime minister, his two deputies, the speaker of parliament, as well as a number of leaders from the ruling Congress Party suffered serious injuries. Several members of the Presidential Guard were reportedly killed.
Ahmad al-Sufi, Saleh's public relations secretary, told Al-Shorfa that the president was in good health and he would issue a statement to the people in the coming hours explaining all the circumstances surrounding the incident.
However, a later televised statement by Abdo al-Jundi, the Deputy Information Minister, indicated that Saleh was still in the hospital and will not be able to give a press conference.
Al-Sufi refused to provide any information about the injuries sustained by senior state officials, saying that the president will discuss all these details during his press conference.
Some media outlets had reported that Saleh was killed in the attack on his mosque, including Suhail TV, a channel owned by Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar.
The official Saba news agency cited a statement from the office of the Yemeni president denying media reports that Saleh was killed.
The attack came as violent clashes continued in the south of Sanaa, near the home of Sheikh Hamid Al-Ahmar, the brother of Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ahmar, the leader of the Hashid tribes. Sadeq al-Ahmar's followers have been engaged in violent confrontations with government forces that have left dozens dead and hundreds wounded over the past two weeks.
Tareq al-Shami, spokesman for the ruling Congress Party, told Al-Shorfa that the al- Ahmar family was behind the attack, and that government troops were attacking the homes where missiles were fired that hit the presidential compound while the president was attending Friday prayers.
A number of shells also targeted pro-Saleh demonstrators in Sanaa’s 70 Square after Friday prayers. Demonstrators were reportedly awaiting the arrival of the president to attend the rally and give a speech. The attack did not result in casualties.
Al-Jundi accused the al-Ahmar family followers of targeting protesters who supported the president. In a statement to Al-Shorfa, he wondered whether this was the "peace that they had been calling for".
The office of Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar denied responsibility for the bombing of the presidential compound. The director of Al-Ahmar’s office, Abdel Qawi al-Qaisi told Al-Shorfa that there was no link between the supporters of Sheikh al-Ahmar and the targeting of the presidential palace. He stressed that the details were still not clear.
Al-Qaisi added that there were no buildings controlled by Sheikh al-Ahmar’s supporters in the area where the compound is located except for the houses in which they live. He said high security fences surround the presidential compound, making it impossible for Sheikh Al-Ahmar’s supporters to take over nearby buildings.
Al-Shorfa contacted Yemeni opposition parties, but Sultan al-Atawani, a member of the opposition Joint Meeting Party, said the opposition was still in meetings to review the situation and that it will issue a statement on the recent events.
Fahd al-Munifi, a representative of the Revolutionary Youth Committee, which had organised a Friday demonstration in solidarity with protesters in Taiz, told Al-Shorfa that their revolution will remain peaceful and would not waiver. On Thursday, government forces clashed with protesters in Taiz. At least 25 people were killed during the past two days, according to wire reports.
The latest confrontations came amid continued efforts by the Gulf States to push forward their initiative, which calls for a peaceful transfer of power. The official Saba news agency reported Thursday that the president was ready to sign the initiative.