Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Yemen President Saleh Has Collapsed Lung, Burns Over 40%

Sources: Yemeni president Saleh has collapsed lung, burns over 40%

(CNN) -- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh suffered burns on 40% of his body and has a collapsed lung, U.S. government officials briefed on the matter said, as the fate of the embattled leader -- and whether he will return to the conflict in Yemen -- remains uncertain.

Saleh was injured Friday from an attack at a mosque in his presidential compound and is seeking treatment in Saudi Arabia. An Arab diplomatic source with knowledge of Saleh's condition says one shrapnel wound is 7 centimeters (2.75 inches) deep.

According to Western diplomats, the attack came from a bomb. Yemeni investigations are "focusing on what happened inside the mosque," not a rocket or mortar attack, the diplomats said Monday. One diplomat said the bombing was not a suicide bombing and that the Yemeni investigation "is still ongoing."

But last week, a Yemeni official who asked not to be named told CNN that Saleh was in the mosque when two "projectiles" were fired during Friday prayers.

Clashes between government and tribal forces have raged for weeks in Yemen, where thousands of protesters have been pressuring Saleh to give up power since January.

The fighting erupted when Saleh balked at a deal with the opposition that would have eased him out of office in 30 days.

Yemen's largest opposition bloc has vowed to prevent Saleh from returning.

"The Yemeni people will do all in their power to not allow Saleh to re-enter the country," Joint Meeting Parties spokesman Mohammed Qahtan said Sunday.

One of the U.S. government officials said Monday he can't imagine the Saudis letting him go back. He said it is critical that the Saudis press Saleh to accept a Gulf Cooperation Council deal offering him immunity in exchange for stepping down.

CNN's Nic Robertson, Elise Labott, Mohammed Jamjoom, Pam Benson, Tim Lister and journalist Hakim Almasmari contributed to this report.

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