Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh was lightly wounded Friday when rebel shells hit the presidential compound in Sanaa, killing six guards and wounding seven top officials, the Guardian reported. The attack on Yemen's president, the first since the uprising began on January 18th, is an unprecedented challenge to his 32 year grip on power.
"The president, may Allah protect him, is well and in good health and the news spread by Suhail channel is groundless," state television said about rumors of Saleh's death coming from opposition television. Saleh is expected to address Yemen in a few hours, despite claims by his party's leader that he was "lightly wounded in the back of the head."
The attack nearly decapitated almost all of Yemen's current leadership. Deputy Prime Minister General Rashad al-Alimi and Parliament Chief Yahya al-Raie were "critically wounded." Others injured included Saleh's private secretary, the head of Yemen's consultative council; GPC MP Yasser al-Awadi; and Sanaa Governor Noman Duweik, according to Agence-France Presse.
"The Ahmar (tribe) have crossed all red lines," leading party spokesman Tariq al Shami said. The president's advisors also have blamed the al-Ahmar tribe, which denied the attack and claimed it was actually ordered by the Yemeni president. The accused al-Ahmar leader, Sheikh Hamid, claimed the attack and accusations of his involvement were an "excuse to shell and destroy my home and the homes of my brothers Hemyar and Mizhij and that of Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar in an attempt to drag Yemen into civil war."
Clashes between the al-Ahmar tribe and the government have claimed many lives in the past several days. Saleh ordered the arrest of the 10 Ahmar brothers, last month, all sons of Sheikh Abdullah Al Ahmar who was the president's main ally until his death.