Yemen's Saleh returns, calls for truce | world | Hindustan Times
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Yemen's Saleh returns, calls for truce

world Updated: Sep 24, 2011 01:49 IST

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh called for a truce on Friday hours after returning to Sanaa from a three-month stay in Saudi Arabia, as his forces battled dissident troops in the capital.

Saleh's surprise return from Riyadh, where he had been receiving medical treatment for wounds sustained in a June 3 bomb attack on his Sanaa compound, was celebrated by tens of thousands of his supporters who gathered at Sanaa's Sabiin Square, near his palace, for the weekly Friday Muslim prayers.

The 69-year-old Saleh, who has since January faced massive street protests demanding he step down, however did not himself make an appearance at the prayers as was his tradition prior to the attack.

"The people love Ali Abdullah Saleh. The people want you Ali Abdullah Saleh," his supporters chanted, while also praying for the dead.

The coffins of 21 soldiers were lined up, victims of bloodletting that since Sunday has engulfed Sanaa.

According to a tally of figures given by medics and tribal sources, more than 100 people have died in this week's clashes between rival army units backed by tribal forces and in attacks by Saleh's forces on pro-regime demonstrators.

Anti-Saleh protesters at Sittin Road, north of Sabiin Square attending a funeral of 40 people killed in the violence, meanwhile, also welcomed the return of Saleh, saying they now wanted him brought to trial.

"The people want to bring the slaughterer to justice," they chanted. A presidency official said that Saleh had on his return urged an end to the violence. "The president calls on all political and military parties to achieve a truce and a ceasefire," the official said.