Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left his nation - but not his leadership position - to receive medical care for wounds sustained in the bombing of his presidential palace, according to Al-Arabiya English. It remains unclear whether Saleh's departure along with other senior leaders will head off a looming civil war in the failed state.
Saudi sources claim that the Yemeni president was more seriously wounded in the bombing than previously admitted. Saleh underwent chest surgery to remove a piece of shrapnel lodged near his heart, and will undergo cosmetic surgery for burns to his neck and face.
This contradicts claims by the Yemeni government that Saleh was not seriously wounded. "After the attack, officials had promised repeatedly that Saleh would appear in public soon, but eight hours later state TV aired only an audio message from the president, showing an old photo of him on screen," Russia Today reported.
Yemen's government has also not budged on opposition calls for the president to resign, and say that Saleh will be back after receiving treatment. "Saleh is still the legitimate ruler of Yemen," said Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi. "Power transfer will be done in a democratic way." Thousands of protesters, however, cheered Saleh's departure.
Yemeni Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has been appointed acting president in Saleh's absence. Opposition leaders claim that Hadi has offered to withdraw troops from a flashpoint in a Sanaa neighborhood, to lift roadblocks in the capital, and to compromise to avoid the looming civil war. Despite the claims, government troops bombarded the house of an Al-Ahmar tribal leader, who was suspected of involvement in the bombing of the presidential palace.