Saleh killed after switching sides
SANAA/DUBAI: Veteran former president Ali Abdullah Saleh (pictured) was killed in a shooting on Monday after switching sides in Yemen’s civil war, abandoning his Ansar Allah allies in favour of a Saudi-led coalition, foes and supporters said.
Sources in the Ansar Allah said its fighters stopped Saleh’s armoured vehicle with an RPG rocket outside the embattled capital Sanaa and then shot him dead.
Sources in Saleh’s party confirmed he died in an attack on his convoy.
Unverified footage of his bloodied body lolling in a blanket circulated just days after he tore up his alliance with the Ansar Allah following nearly three years in which they had jointly battled the Saudi-led coalition that intervened to try to reinstate Yemen’s internationally recognised government.
In a televised speech on Monday, Ansar Allah leader Abdul Malik al Houthi congratulated the Yemeni people for what he described as a victory against a “conspiracy of treason” engineered by the group’s Gulf Arab enemies.
He did not mention Saleh’s death.
Saleh, 75, had said in a speech on Saturday that he was ready for a “new page” in ties with the coalition and called the Ansar Allah a “coup militia”, leading them to accuse him of betrayal.
Warfare between the former allies has torn densely populated Sanaa for days as Ansar Allah fighters seized control of much of the capital and on Monday blew up Saleh’s house while coalition jets bombed their own positions.
The end of their alliance had seemed poised to transform the fortunes of war after two years of attrition along mostly static front lines, which gave the Saudi-led coalition a new advantage over the Ansar Allah.
Stalemate in Yemen has contributed to a human catastrophe as a Saudi-led blockade and internal fighting has thrust millions to the brink of famine and accelerated the spread of deadly epidemics.