Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed in a fight between his supporters and the Houthi rebels, which is Mr Saleh’s former allies.
Saleh’s General People’s Congress party claimed that the former president died in a clash south of Sanaa, the capital city of Yemen.
The Houthis’ leaders welcomed the news with celebrations, boasting that they had foiled a conspiracy set by the Saudi-led coalition, who had secretly made a peace deal with Saleh’s bloc.
The United Nations laid out a report indicating air strikes on the capital had intensified and the fighting was spreading to other provinces such as Hajjah.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that roads had been blocked, tanks were on the streets and some of the deadliest fighting was close to the diplomatic area near the UN compound.
The Red Cross estimated that at least 125 people have been killed and more than 230 people have been wounded since fighting broke out on Friday.
Jamie McGoldrick, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, urged a humanitarian pause on December 5 to let civilians leave their homes and seek assistance, and for aid workers to continue life-saving programs.
Houthi fighters on Sunday had seized control of much of the capital and deadly clashes took place around the homes of Saleh’s family and their allies.
Saudi-led coalition air strikes failed to prevent the Houthi fighters from reaching Saleh’s neighborhood and by Monday morning Saleh’s own home was surrounded.
Soon afterward, it was reported that the former president had been assassinated and a video of his death circulated on social media.
Officials from the General People’s Congress confirmed the death of Saleh, saying that the Houthi fighters ambushed a convoy which carried the former president and other party officials as they tried to flee to the south towards Sanhan, the hometown of Saleh.
The death of Ali Abdullah Saleh at the hands of the Houthis jeopardizes any prospect of peace in Yemen.
Saleh’s forces and the Houthis had worked together to hold on to Sanaa and repel the forces of the Yemeni government and its Gulf Arab allies.
Rifts between two parties had been shown recently, with Saleh turning his back against the Houthis and seeking a peace deal with the Saudis, an unfortunate decision which led to his death.
Saleh’s loyalists and supporters, who are well-armed, will now seek revenge, making any prospect of peace in Yemen even less likely to happen in the near future.
More details to follow. Image of Ali Abdullah Saleh from Toronto Star.