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Yemen presidential palace shelled, government denies Saleh wounded

Reuters/Ammar Awad

Shells struck a mosque in Yemen's presidential palace compound Friday, with reports that  President Ali Abdullah Saleh was wounded along with his premier and other officials. Pro-government sources said that Saleh was "OK".


Four Republican Guard officers were killed when two shells crashed into the mosque, the official said, as fighting spread from north Sanaa to the south of the capital.

The extent of Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar's injuries were not immediately clear.

State television later said that the president was "well" and officials said he would give a press conference later in the day.

A source close to the presidency told AFP that deputy prime minister for defence and security, General Rashad al-Alimi was "critically wounded and hospitalised".

The authorities blamed Ahmar tribesmen loyal to Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar.

Earlier troops fired a shell into the home of Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar, a leader of the biggest opposition party and brother of Sheikh Sadiq.

Three shells also fell on a square near the university campus where opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been holding a sit-in since late January.

Even as the fighting raged into a fourth straight day, rival demonstrators took to the streets of Sanaa, witnesses said.

Hundreds of anti-Saleh demonstrators gathered at Change Square, near the university, for a day of solidarity with Taez, where security forces this week broke up a sit-in protest, killing 50.

Troops loyal to dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar were deployed to protect the protesters, although positions held by the rebel army units also came under artillery fire.

At the same time a large crowd of Saleh supporters gathered at a square near the presidential palace for a rally broadcast on state television.

More than 60 people have now been confirmed killed in the fighting in the capital since a truce collapsed on Tuesday.

The White House said Thursday its top counter-terrorism aide John Brennan, currently on a visit to the Gulf, was working with US allies in the region to build pressure on Saleh to immediately cede power.

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