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      Yemeni President Transfers Power to Vice President

      Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has transferred power to Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 6/5/2011, 11:08 AM / Last Update: 6/5/2011, 11:21 AM

      Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh transferred power to Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, according to government spokesman Abdu Ganadi.

      The power transfer, effective Saturday night, came one day after an attack on the presidential palace that wounded Saleh and six other top government officials as they were praying in the compound's mosque.

      Saleh suffered second-degree burns to his chest and face, and was left with a piece of shrapnel more than seven cm (three inches) long under his heart in the attack, the BBC reported Saturday night.

      Prime Minister Ali Mujawar, Deputy Prime Ministers Rashad al-Alimi and Sadeq Amin Abu Rasand, Shura Council Chairman Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghani, Parliament Speaker Yahya Al-Raee and Shura Council Chairman Abdul Aziz Abdul Ghan were also wounded; they were airlifted to neighboring Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.

      In addition, a Yemeni official who asked not to be identified, confirmed to CNN the death of Sheikh Ali Mohsen al-Matari and four bodyguards.

      However, there are conflicting reports on the whereabouts of the Yemeni president, who has refused until now to step down from his 33-year reign over the country. Saleh has been a strong ally of the United States in the war on terror, but U.S. President Barack Obama has urged him to resign in order to "maintain stability" in the country, where the Al Qaeda terrorist organization has increasingly gained power in the south in recent months.

      A number of Yemeni officials told CNN that Saleh was still in Yemen and that he suffered a minor head injury in Friday's attack. The president delivered a speech that night that was broadcast to the nation.

      Sana'a Deputy Mayor Yaser Yamani also announced on Yemeni state television Saturday night that “Saleh is still being treated in the military hospital in Sana'a.

      However, a Saudi government source told CNN that Saleh was airlifted to Saudi Arabia and immediately rushed to a nearby hospital. His injuries, said the source, were worse than originally believed.

      Saleh accused Hashid tribal confederation leader Sadeq al-Ahmar for the attack, and government forces responded with an attack on Ahmar's compound.

      Ten people were killed and 35 others were wounded in the shelling, according to Ahmar spokesman Fawzi al-Jaradi.

      The Saudi government stepped in on Saturday and attempted to broker another ceasefire between Saleh and Ahmar's forces. But a number of such ceasefires have allegedly been agreed to since protests began in February, only to be broken within hours.

      While negotiations continued, tens of thousands of protesters massed in the capital's Change Square. Even more demonstrators flooded into the iconic Al Hurreya city square in the flashpoint town of Taiz. Government forces shot at the crowd, injuring two and prompting a condemnation by the Human Rights Watch organization.