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Bomb kills Yemen officer, Gulf states mull solution

Second bomb in two days kills offer loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh as Gulf states fret over resolving the escalating conflicts after EU and US fail to strike deal with regime and opposition

Reuters , Tuesday 14 Jun 2011
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A bomb killed a military officer loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an official said on Tuesday, as Yemen's rich Gulf neighbours sought to avert civil war on their doorstep over the wounded leader's fate.

Yemen's neighbours have tried repeatedly and in vain to broker an exit for Saleh -- forced to seek treatment in Saudi Arabia for wounds suffered in an attack on his palace earlier this month -- following months of protests against him.

The failure of the most recent bid in May ushered in two weeks of fighting that left parts of the capital in ruins and fanned Western and regional fears of Yemen collapsing into chaos and giving al-Qaeda a stronghold alongside oil shipping routes.

The Gulf Cooperation Council, a bloc of monarchies neighbouring Yemen, has seen Saleh back out of deals it struck to ease him from office on three prior occasions. Its members will meet on Tuesday, almost certainly to discuss Yemen's turmoil, said analysts.

"Yemen has to be the number one issue because of what's ongoing there: the power vacuum, who will take over Saleh, what that process is going to look like," said Dubai-based security analyst Theodore Karasik.

In Burayqa, near the southern port of Aden, a bomb ripped through the car of Colonel Muti'a al-Sayani, a close relative of a provincial governor who is among Saleh's supporters on Monday.

That city is flooded with refugees fleeing fighting between Yemen's military and Islamist militants who have seized the capital of a neighbouring province -- one of the multiple conflicts that Yemen's neighbours fear could shatter the country and embolden the country's al-Qaeda wing.

A US and European-brokered effort to forge a transition agreement between Saleh's deputy, now the acting leader, and opposition parties who demand the president surrender all claims to power immediately, collapsed after the deputy refused to discuss Saleh's fate.

Yemen said on Monday it arrested several people for attempting to kill Saleh, apparently referring to the attack that wounded him. A state newspaper reporting the arrests hinted blame would be placed on a group of opposition parties.

A ceasefire has held in Sanaa since Saleh left following the 3 June attack on his palace, before which fighting between Saleh's forces and those of General Ali al-Mohsen al-Ahmar -- who defected in March -- killed hundreds of people and forced thousands to flee.

But shortages of fuel, electricity and water are acute in the capital, and violence in the southern province of Abyan, whose capital Islamist gunmen seized last month, has worsened.

Saleh has not been seen in public since the palace attack, which left him with burns and shrapnel wounds. Yemen's ambassador in London said on Saturday that he was stable and recovering. Two members of his cabinet wounded in the attack were in a worse condition and required more surgery.

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