Western and Arab diplomats were rescued by helicopter Sunday from an embassy besieged by armed supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, officials said.
The attack, which a U.S. State Department official who declined to be named told CNN seemed to be the work of Saleh’s regime, came as the president put up new roadblocks to an Arab-brokered deal for him to surrender power after 33 years.
The United Arab Emirates Embassy was surrounded by gunmen opposing the Gulf Cooperation Council plan. Witnesses told CNN many of the attackers carried machine guns and others pistols or batons, as Yemeni security forces stood by and did nothing.
U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein had said the envoys of Britain, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates were trapped along with him. The GCC’s secretary-general, Abdul Latif Zayani, also was at the embassy.
Earlier Sunday, Saleh refused to recognize the signatures opposition leaders placed on the deal Saturday and demanded they come back to the presidential palace. The opposition refused.
Saleh supporters blocked roads to a building where the president was meeting with his party Sunday, vowing to keep him from leaving to sign his resignation.