June 4, 2011 / 5:10 PM / 8 years ago

Yemen's Saleh has shrapnel near heart: report

A still image taken from Yemen TV footage shows a picture of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh during an audio broadcast June 3, 2011. REUTERS/Yemen TV via Reuters TV

LONDON (Reuters) - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been left with shrapnel near his heart and second-degree burns to his chest and face after an attack on his palace, the BBC reported on Saturday.

Yemeni officials dismissed earlier reports on Arabiya TV that Saleh had left for neighbouring Saudi Arabia, where six other wounded officials have gone for medical treatment.

The BBC said it had been informed by “sources close to the president” that Saleh had a piece of shrapnel almost 7.6 cm long under his heart.

The sources added that it was unclear whether the Yemeni president would need surgery.

In an audio address on Friday, Saleh said he had suffered only minor wounds and blamed an “outlaw gang” for the attack. He has not appeared in public, raising speculation over the extent of his injuries.

Global powers have been pressing Saleh to sign a Gulf-brokered deal to end his 33-year rule. Leaving Yemen, even for medical care, could make it hard for Saleh to retain power.

Reporting by Christina Fincher; editing by Andrew Roche

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