Middle East

Yemen leader Ali Abdullah Saleh vows to return home

An image grab taken from Yemen's state TV shows Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh delivering a televised speech from the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday
Image caption Mr Saleh looked and sounded fitter than in his last appearance

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has vowed to return to Yemen, two months after flying to Saudi Arabia for treatment for wounds sustained in an attack on his palace compound.

"See you soon in the capital Sanaa," he said, in a televised address to his supporters from Riyadh.

Mr Saleh is clinging to power in the face of months of protests against his 33-year rule.

Both the US and his Saudi hosts have urged him to stand down.

The US is concerned that renewed conflict will bolster the power of the Yemen-based wing of al-Qaeda.

Mr Saleh is thought to have suffered 40% burns to parts of his body when his compound was shelled in early June. He was only released from hospital last week.

In Tuesday's televised address, he lambasted the opposition and invited them to go to the ballot box to resolve Yemen's political crisis.

He attacked the opposition parties and tribesmen who have sided with them as "highway robbers" and "opportunists" and told protesters their movement had been hijacked, one report said.

Renewed fighting

Mr Saleh looked and sounded fitter and stronger than on his last appearance, and many Yemenis who thought he had left for good will be frustrated at his doggedness, say correspondents.

There has been renewed fighting in Yemen, with a tribal source telling AFP news agency that 23 tribesmen were killed in clashes with forces loyal to President Saleh in Arhab, north-east of Sanaa, overnight.

It said the violence had flared following the installation last week of a checkpoint in the area, seen as the north-eastern gate to Sanaa, by the Republican Guard, run by Mr Saleh's son Ahmed.

Over the weekend a wave of fighting was reported in and around Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, where militants linked to al-Qaeda have staged a successful offensive since President Saleh's enforced exile.

A total of 17 militants died as well as three soldiers, a military official told AP news agency.