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YEMENI ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh was assassinated by his erstwhile Houthi allies yesterday while allegedly fleeing to Saudi Arabia.
Houthi militia released a video showing Mr Saleh’s bloodied body, wrapped in a blanket, being lifted into a pick-up truck. He was apparently killed in an ambush on the road to Marib, east of the capital Sanaa.
Earlier Iran’s Press TV reported an unconfirmed bombing of Mr Saleh’s home in Sanaa.
Clashes in the capital have continued as his alliance with the Houthi rebels fell apart. The Houthis had accused him of betrayal, allegedly striking a deal with Saudi Arabia. Saudi coalition aircraft had been supporting Mr Saleh's troops in fighting over the last five days.
Mr Saleh ruled Yemen for 33 years before being toppled in 2012 during popular protests. But he soon formed an alliance with the Houthis to fight against his successor Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s Saudi-backed government.
In 2015, after the Houthis took control of Sanaa with the support of troops loyal to Mr Saleh, Mr Hadi fled to the southern Yemeni port of Aden and then to Riyadh. Saudi Arabia and its coalition of allies have carried out widespread bombing of civilian areas in support of Mr Hadi.
Mr Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party, which dominates the parliament, initially denied those reports. But later his supporters confirmed his death in the road attack.
The Interior Ministry, which has sided with the dominant Houthi clan, announced “the end of the crisis of the treason militia and the killing of its leader and a number of his criminal partisans.”
Saudi-led coalition jets blitzed Sanaa overnight in support of forces loyal to Mr Saleh. But the Yemeni Republican Guard, still loyal to the Houthis, said it had taken control of the capital and surrounding countryside.
On Sunday night Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi urged the Houthis and forces loyal to Mr Saleh to settle their differences swiftly. “We hope Yemeni forces would resolve their differences through dialogue to prevent foreign enemies from taking advantage of the current situation,” he said.
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