Yemen PM returns from Riyadh after attack on Saleh

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2011 1:14 PM
Yemen PM returns from Riyadh after attack on Saleh

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's prime minister became the first senior politician injured in a June assassination attempt on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to return home from Saudi Arabia, a government official said on Tuesday.

The official told Reuters that Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Megawar arrived in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday evening and was greeted at the airport by hundreds of government officials and supporters.

Megawar had been receiving medical treatment in Riyadh, along with a number of other presidential aides and Saleh himself.

Saleh has repeatedly said he will also return to the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, which has been paralyzed by months of protests against his 33-year authoritarian rule.

In the latest clash, Yemeni warplanes killed five militants on Monday night, a security official said. The militants were at a checkpoint they had seized in the southern province of Abyan, where Islamists emboldened by the months of upheaval have taken control of at least three towns since March.

Tribesmen said they saw militants load dead bodies into a car and speed off toward the coastal town of Shaqra, which they took over last week.

Some tribesmen have sided with the Yemeni army to try to flush militants out of Abyan, setting up checkpoints along roads and last month launching an offensive that has so far failed to recapture much lost ground.

Residents of Lawdar, also in Abyan, said a man driving a motorcycle laden with explosives, thought to be a suicide bomber, blew himself up by accident at dawn on Tuesday on the outskirts of the city.

The United States and Saudi Arabia fear that upheaval in Yemen is giving militants, who the government says belong to al Qaeda, more room to launch attacks on the region and beyond.

Opponents of Saleh accuse him of exaggerating the threat of al Qaeda and even encouraging militants in order to illustrate the dangers of Yemen without him and pressure Riyadh and Washington into backing him.

(Reporting by Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Isabel Coles and Jason Benham; Editing by David Stamp)