President Ali Abdullah Saleh reaches Riyadh for treatment after being wounded in a shell attack in his house

Sanna Youths celebrated on Sunday what they said is the fall of Y

emen’s regime after beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hurt in a blast inside his compound, left the country for treatment in Saudi Arabia, AFP reports.

" Today, Yemen is newborn," sang dozens of youths in Sanaaalt39s University Square – dubbed " Change Square" – the epicentre of anti- regime protests that have raged against Salehalt39s rule since January.

" This is it, the regime has fallen," others chanted.

Saleh, wounded by an explosion as he prayed at a mosque inside his presidential compound on Friday, was transferred to Saudi Arabia late on Saturday, but has not stood down, a Saudi official said.

" President Saleh has arrived in Riyadh for treatment, but he will return to Yemen," the official told AFP late on Saturday, on condition of anonymity.

In Sanaa, a presidential palace source only confirmed the departure of Saleh, who under the constitution is to be replaced by Deputy President Abdel Rabbo Mansur Hadi in his absence.

Saleh, 69, has refused to give up the power he has held for nearly 33 years despite four months antiregime protests inspired by popular revolts that toppled autocratic leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.

His security forces have waged a brutal crackdown on the protests and he has repeatedly refused to sign a plan brokered by the Gulf Arab monarchies, headed by Saudi Arabia, for a peaceful transfer of power, the report said.

Yemenalt39s opposition vowed to prevent the return of injured President Ali Abdullah Saleh from a Saudi hospital.

" We will work with all our strength to prevent his return," parliamentary opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan told AFP. " We see this as the beginning of the end of this tyrannical and corrupt regime." Saleh suffered " burns and scratches to the face and chest," a Yemeni official said, playing down the extent of his injuries, after the GPC said he was " lightly wounded in the back of the head."

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