09/23/2011, 00.00
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Saleh returns to Yemen. Fighting continues in Sanaa

The Yemeni president has returned home after more than three months of treatment in Riyadh. On 3 June, he was the victim of an attack. Loyalist forces in the capital and opponents clash for a week: more dead over night. Negotiations for the transition stalled.
Sanaa (AsiaNews / Agencies) - President Ali Abdullah Saleh has returned home this morning from Saudi Arabia where he spent the past three months for treatment, following an assassination attempt June 3, 2011 in which some of his colleagues lost their lives. This was announced by state television, with a brief urgent dispatch: " Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of the republic, returned this morning to the land of the nation safely after a trip for treatment in Riyadh that lasted more than three months" . (06/06/2011 Yemenis celebrate Saleh’s departure, but doubts linger over his possible return). Saleh (the photo shows him in a televised address to the nation on August 16) does not seem to want to relinquish the power that has held for 33 years in spite of eight months of street protests aimed at putting an end to his regime.

His return comes at a time when violence between loyalists and opponents is at maximum. The two sides have been fighting for five days in Sanaa, and more than one hundred people have died in battle. The protesters are set to return today to parade through the streets of the capital after Friday prayers and the presence of Saleh is designed to make the situation even tenser. Protesters gather in the area called "Square of Change", the street where the opponents camped out eight months ago.

This area became the scene of a battle that included artillery fire from loyalist forces and soldiers who supported reform, led by General Ali Mohsen. Last night some large-calibre bullets were fired on the "Square of Change", killing one person. Another six were killed between yesterday and last night in the fighting that has raged in Hasaba, the stronghold of a powerful anti-Saleh tribal leader in, Sadiq al-Ahmar.

The negotiations for a peaceful transition have stalled, despite the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council and of the UN. Saleh has already back tracked three times on a plan sponsored by the Gulf countries. A cease-fire proclaimed by the Yemeni vice president last week has failed. The dead from the start of the uprising, now count more than 400. The fear of the United States and Saudi Arabia is that Al Qaeda is taking advantage of instability to increase its presence. According to local sources, Al Qaeda has already taken hold of some small towns near a key channel for the transport of oil.
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