Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh left a Saudi hospital over two months after he was wounded in a bombing at his Sana’a residence, but he will remain in Riyadh, a Saudi official said.
“The Yemeni president left the military hospital this (Saturday) evening at 9:00 pm (1800 GMT) after receiving the necessary treatment and was taken to a temporary residence for a recovery period,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official did not say how long Mr. Saleh would stay, as an uprising continues in Yemen against his government.
Yemen’s junior information minister Abdo Al Janadi refused to confirm Mr. Saleh’s release from hospital, merely telling AFP that “the president is following his treatment” in Riyadh.
He added: “When his doctors allow him to return, he will return.”
The announcement came as forces loyal to Mr. Saleh skirmished with those of the Ahmar family, a power within Yemen’s Hashed tribal confederation, in the capital, witnesses said.
They said the two sides traded fire in the Hassaba district of the capital, where prominent members of the Ahmar family reside. The exchange marked a second day of confrontation in the area, though there were no reports of casualties.
Separately, one protester was killed and three injured in the southern city of Taiz when forces loyal to Mr. Saleh opened fire to scatter an anti-Saleh demonstration, witnesses said.
Weeks of fighting between Mr. Saleh’s forces and those of the Ahmar family left parts of Sana’a in ruins, giving way to an uneasy ceasefire after the bombing in Mr. Saleh’s compound that forced him from the country in June.
That attack came after Mr. Saleh rejected for the third time a deal crafted by the Gulf Cooperation Council, a grouping of Yemen's resource-rich Gulf neighbors, to ease him from office.
The collapse of diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis over Mr. Saleh’s fate has coincided with a surge of fighting in the south of the country with Islamists, whom Mr. Saleh’s government has linked to the country's Al Qaeda branch.
Islamist fighters seized Zinjibar, capital of the southern Abyan province, in late May, a development Mr. Saleh’s opponents accused him of orchestrating to underline his threat that only his rule would keep parts of the country from falling to Al Qaeda.
The ensuing fighting in Abyan has displaced as many as 90,000 of the province's residents.
Washington, which has made Mr. Saleh’s Yemen a cornerstone of its counter-terrorism strategy, has urged him to accept the deal to ease him from power, while maintaining ties with potential successors.
Since Mr. Saleh’s departure to Saudi Arabia, Yemeni Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has assumed power but has not been designated the de facto head of state.
The opposition, meanwhile, has called for the creation of an interim council, to prevent Mr. Saleh’s return.
Mr. Saleh has ruled Yemen since 1978 and has worked closely with the United States on fighting Al Qaeda, but cooperation has been sharply curtailed this year due to the turmoil in his country.
Since January, protesters have been calling for Mr. Saleh to step down.
Yemeni security forces and government supporters have carried out bloody attacks on protesters, while opposition tribesmen have battled government forces in the capital Sana’a and elsewhere, and some military units have defected to the opposition.
Influential tribal leaders formed a coalition last month headed by tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq Al Ahmar to bolster the uprising against Mr. Saleh, in which fierce clashes have hit parts of the country.
Saleh, 69, joined the army at an early age and took part in the 1962 coup that replaced the Zaidi imamate with an Arab nationalist republic.
His career has been remarkably long –of his four predecessors, two were assassinated and two went into exile after coups.
Mr. Saleh first took power at the height of the Cold War as leader of North Yemen in 1978, and in 1990 he successfully steered the country to reunification with the communist South.
He has since survived a succession of crises, including Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 after which Saudi Arabia punished its southern neighbour for siding with Iraq.