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Yemeni president returns from Riyadh

(Xinhua)

16:56, September 23, 2011

SANAA, Sep. 23 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to his restive nation Friday morning from Saudi Arabia, the state-run TV and Saba news agency reported.

"President of the Republic, Ali Abdullah Saleh, returned this morning (Friday) to the land of Yemen safely after a medical trip in Riyadh that lasted more than three months," reads a caption aired by the state TV.

Saleh had been recovering in Riyadh for three months after being injured in a bomb attack early June.

Saleh's return came after six straight days of deadly clashes between his supporters and defected army troops backed by opposition tribal rebels in the capital, which left at least 111 people dead and nearly a thousand ,more injured.

Despite continuing meditation efforts by the UN envoy to Yemen and chief of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Yemen is still in the grip of a political standoff and suffering heavy clashes.

An official from the Interior Ministry told Xinhua all roads linking Sanaa airport and the presidential palace in the southern part of the capital were blocked by the Republican Guard troops and that Saleh had earlier arrived his presidential compound.

"Sanaa and other major cities will witness this evening a fireworks celebration of Saleh's safety return after the assassination attack on June 3," he added, speaking on the conditions of anonymity.

Meanwhile, a ruling party official told Xinhua that Saleh may sign the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC)-brokered deal after holding an early presidential election.

Saleh's supporters in Sanaa, Ibb, Thamar, Taiz and other provinces fired heavy gunshots to the air across major provinces to celebrate the president's return, including Sanaa, according to several eyewitnesses.

"I heard the news of the president's return from the Sanaa state Radio,and now I along with dozens of ruling party's members are in our way to Sanaa to celebrate Saleh's return," tribal Sheikh Mohamed Kasim told Xinhua from the southern province of Ibb, some 150 km south of Sanaa.

The embattled president has faced eight-month-long protest demanding an immediate end to his 33-year rule.

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