Saleh was initially said to have received a shrapnel wound, and his Vice President was quoted on Monday as saying the President would return to Yemen within days from Saudi Arabia where he is being treated.
The Yemeni official reiterated comments by a US official, saying Saleh was in a more serious condition with burns over roughly 40% of his body.
Saleh, 69, was wounded on Friday when rockets struck his Sana’a palace, killing seven people and wounding senior officials and advisers in what his officials said was an assassination attempt. He is being treated in a Riyadh hospital.
The volatile situation in Yemen, which lies on vital oil shipping lanes, alarms Western powers and neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia, who fear that chaos would enable the local al Qaeda franchise to operate more freely there.
They see Saleh’s absence for medical treatment in Riyadh as an opportunity to ease the president out of office after nearly 33 years ruling the impoverished Arab nation.
“We are calling for a peaceful and orderly transition,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “The situation in Yemen is extremely uncertain following President Saleh’s departure to Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment and his transfer of authority to the Vice President. We urge the Vice President to work closely with all sides to implement the Gulf Cooperation Council Agreement and to begin political transition now”.
Saudi officials say it is up to Saleh whether he returns home or not, but they and their Western allies may want to revive a Gulf-brokered transition deal under which the Yemeni leader would quit in return for immunity from prosecution.
Saudi Arabia is worried by the activities of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has staged daring if not very effective attacks on Saudi and U.S. targets.
The Yemeni Army said it had killed dozens of Islamist militants including a local al Qaeda leader in the southern town of Zinjibar, capital of the flashpoint Abyan Province.
Source: Khaleej Times