Former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh Killed

Residents of the Yemeni capital, home to some 5 million people, say that the last 24 hours marked the deadliest of Yemen’s war. Incessant street battles and explosions extended across the city
Former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh Killed
Former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh Killed

Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed in the capital Sanaa, according to the radio station of the Houthi-controlled interior ministry.

Saleh died after days of intense street fighting between his forces and Houthi fighters, a senior aide to Saleh told CNN.

However, there are conflicting reports about the circumstances leading to his death.

Reuters quoted a source in Saleh’s General Peoples Congress (GPC) as saying he was killed by sniper bullets.

Sources in the Houthi group said fighters stopped his armored vehicle with an RPG rocket and then shot him dead.

Footage circulating on social media on Monday appeared to display a body resembling Saleh, with one video showing how armed militiamen used a blanket to move the corpse into the back of a pickup truck.

The Houthi-controlled interior ministry said in a statement that "the militias of treason are finished and their leader has been killed".

Mohammad Abdulsalam, the spokesman of Houthis' Ansarullah group, described Saleh's death as "the end of a conspiracy hatched by the Saudi-led coalition," Tasnim news agency reported.

He said his group has no problem with "our brothers" in GPC.

Abdulsalam held the United Arab Emirates, a close ally in the Saudi-led coalition, responsible for Saleh's death.

"Saleh's end was decided by the Emiratis," he said.

Earlier, there were reports that Saleh's car came under attack in an area which is under the cover of UAE air force.       

His death comes two days after Saleh announced he was parting ways with his former Houthi allies, and that he wanted to "turn the page" on relations with the US-backed Saudi-led coalition that launched a military intervention in Yemen in 2015. The coalition welcomed the move and granted Saleh's forces air support in fierce battles that later transpired.

The United Nations on Saturday urged all factions "to urgently come to the negotiations table and to engage in the peace process."

"We reiterate our position that the political solution is the only way out of a prolonged conflict in Yemen," Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement.

The former Yemeni president's defection seemed to signal a breakthrough in the more than two-year war, potentially breaking a stalemate that has sustained the fighting.

But it triggered major upheaval in Sanaa, where Saleh lives. Residents of the Yemeni capital, home to some 5 million people, say that the last 24 hours marked the deadliest of Yemen's war. Incessant street battles and explosions extended across the city, according to residents, as schools and hospitals shut their doors.

At least 125 people were killed and a further 238 are known to have been injured in the fighting over the last five days, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross told CNN.

The spokeswoman added that the ICRC is urgently trying to supply fuel for generators along with body bags to two of the main hospitals in Sanaa which are "running critically low" of supplies "due to the fact that no commercial imports are coming into the country."

Thirteen ICRC staff members were relocated on Monday from Sanaa to Djibouti due to "fierce clashes" in Sanaa overnight, and will "continue to work on Yemen from there," the spokeswoman added.

The United Nations released a stern warning on Friday to the Saudi-led coalition of the catastrophic consequences associated with not fully lifting a blockade it has imposed on Yemen.

Three-quarters of Yemenis need some kind of humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs, international observers have said, with more than 17 million people facing food insecurity, including 8.4 million at risk of starvation.

Ali Abdullah Saleh rose to power as part of a military coup, becoming president of North Yemen in 1978. After unification in 1990 he became president of all Yemen.

He officially stepped down as president in 2012, less than a year after protests swept through Yemen as part of the Arab Spring. He re-emerged as a major political player in recent years, joining forces with Houthi fighters in their fight against coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia, a former ally.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of Persian Gulf Arab states against Houthi rebels who ousted the pro-Saudi government in Yemen in 2015.

That government's president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has been living in Saudi Arabia since the rebels took over the presidential palace early that year.

The UN Human Rights Office has documented more than 13,800 civilian casualties, including more than 5,000 people killed since fighting began. The numbers are believed to be a fraction of the overall death toll.


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