Former president of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by Houthi forces on Monday in the capital after turning against the militants just three days prior in an attempt to work towards peace with an international coalition.
Mr. Saleh’s home in Sana’a was reportedly blown up by the militants with the Houthi-controlled interior ministry saying hours later that their former ally was dead.
However, Houthis said that the ex-president was killed when its fighters opened fire on his vehicle.
Until Saturday, Saleh’s supporters had been been fighting as allies with the Houthis in a rebellion against the country’s current president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Saleh’s party, the General People’s Congress, initially denied earlier reports by Iranian-backed media that he was killed in the explosion that rocked his residence, but later confirmed he was killed by the Houthis.
The GPC’s assistant secretary-general, Yasser al-Awadi was also killed by militants, according to party officials.
Images that purportedly show Saleh’s body have been circulating online. Al Jazeera news agency released a video of the former president with his head bleeding from what appears to be a fatal wound, possibly from shrapnel.
Video shows injury [Graphic Warning]
Since the civil war broke out in March of 2015, over 8,670 people have been killed and 49,960 injured, according to numbers released by the United Nations.
Some 20.7 million individuals in Yemen are in need of humanitarian aid as the worst food security situation grasps the country that was created by a sweeping famine.
Cholera has also struck Yemen, killing at least 2,000 people since April of this year.
An international coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched an intervention and offensive against the rebels in 2015 in an attempt to return peace to its southern neighbor, but the situation continues to worsen for the regular people of Yemen.
Mr Saleh on Friday told Riyadh that if they were to lift a blockade and halted attacks on his country, he would “turn the page.”
This was appeared to be well received by the coalition, which called his decision to “take the lead and to side with their people will free Yemen of…militias loyal to Iran.”
However, former Houthi allies accused Saleh of “treason”.
“Do not continue. This act is an act of treason. Shame on them,” militant leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi said of Saleh and his supporters, according to several reports.
The capital of Yemen has been embroiled in fighting as the former allies turn on each other, leaving several dead hundreds injured.
“I call upon the brothers in neighbouring states and the alliance to stop their aggression, lift the siege, open the airports and allow food aid and the saving of the wounded and we will turn a new page by virtue of our neighborliness,” Saleh explained in a TV statement.
Current President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi also welcomed the apparent change in position from Saleh, and made clear he was eager to work with the former president against the rebel militants.
Hadi expressed his plans for a “broad national coalition that will lay the foundations for a new era and unify everyone against the coup militia.”
The first president
Ali Abdullah Saleh was the founder and first president of Yemen after uniting North and South Yemen in 1990, serving for 32 years.
In 2012, he was ousted from power and allied with pro-Iranian Houthi militants against the news installed and internationally recognized government in Sana’a.
Before that, however, he was described as a moderate that strived to create ties between his country and the West.
More details to follow. With files from the United Nations. Image 1 of Ali Abdullah Saleh from Middle East Monitor.