President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned today to the violence-torn Yemeni capital after more than three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia in a surprise move certain to further enflame battles between forces loyal to him and his opponents. Saleh left Yemen for Saudi Arabia in early June after he was seriously injured in a rocket attack on his presidential compound in the capital Sanaa, but he staunchly refused to resign and Yemen slipped deeper into chaos during his absence.
The worst violence yet erupted this week with battles between Saleh loyalists and his armed opponents that have so far killed around 100 people, mostly protesters in Sanaa. The elite Republican Guards, led by Saleh's son Ahmed, have been engaged in street battles and exchanges of shelling over the city with army units that defected to the opposition and tribal fighters who support the protesters. Saleh's return "means more divisions, more escalation and confrontations," says a protest leader. "We are on a very critical escalation." (Read more Ali Abdullah Saleh stories.)