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Yemen: Ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh killed

Yemen: Ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh killed

Veteran former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed in a shooting after switching sides in Yemen's civil war, abandoning his Iran-aligned Houthi allies in favour of a Saudi-led coalition.

"I call upon ... the Yemeni people in all provinces still suffering under this criminal and terrorist militia [Houthis] to rise in its face ... and cast it out, and our heroic army stationed around Sanaa will be their supporters", Mr Hadi said.

Speaking from Sanaa, Hakim al-Masmari, editor-in-chief of the Yemen Post, described Saleh as "probably the most powerful person" in Yemen and said the reports of his death had left the country "in shock and awe". Four years later, he stifled a rebellion in the South.

His killing was later confirmed by Saleh's political party, the General People's Congress (GPC).

After he agreed to leave office in a deal to end the Arab Spring uprising in Yemen, however, Saleh struck an alliance with the Houthis.




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 Houthis. He continued to be a leader despite being forced to resign as a result of the people's protests.Moreover, after an attempt to assassinate him in Al-Nahdeen Mosque, everyone thought Saleh was done, but he spent months receiving treatment for his burns at Riyadh Military Hospital and surprised everyone with his return to continue to rule Sanaa and lead political and military battles. He also called for the opening of the roads and crossings for relief boats to reach the city and for commercial traffic.

The tactical alliance between Saleh and the Houthis had often appeared fragile, with both groups suspicious of each other's ultimate motives and sharing little ideological ground.

Saleh on Saturday announced he was open to talks with Saudi Arabia and its allies on condition they ended their crippling blockade of Yemen's ports and airports. "But this is far from over - Saleh was an icon in Yemen for millions, and so his death will not go slowly or unanswered".

"Today marked the failure of the conspiracy and treason, a black day for the forces of aggression", he said on Al-Masirah.

Yemen has remained dogged by violence since 2014, when the Houthis and Saleh loyalists overran much of the country, including the capital.