SANAA (Reuters) – Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed in fighting with the Iran-aligned Houthi militia raging in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said on Monday, quoting sources in Saleh’s party.
Al Arabiya quoted a source in Saleh’s General Peoples Congress as saying he was killed by sniper bullets. A Houthi video distributed on social media showed what appeared to be Saleh’s body, clad in grey clothes and being carried out on a red blanket. The side of his head bore a deep wound.
Unverified footage that circulated earlier on social media showed armed militiamen unfurling a blanket containing the corpse and shouting, “Praise God!” and “Hey Ali Affash!”, another last name for Saleh.
The radio station of the Houthi-run Yemeni Interior Ministry first reported Saleh’s death but his party quickly denied this to Reuters, saying he was still leading his forces in Sanaa.
Earlier on Monday, Houthi forces blew up Saleh’s house in Sanaa and came under aerial attack by Saudi-led coalition warplanes for a second day, residents said.
The Saudi-led air campaign, backed by U.S. and other Western arms and intelligence, has killed hundreds of civilians but has failed to secure the coalition any major gains in the nearly three-year-old campaign to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to power.
Saleh’s loyalists have lost ground on the sixth day of heavy urban warfare with the Houthis during which the death toll has jumped to at least 125 with 238 wounded, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“We are supporting the main hospitals in Sanaa who urgently need war-wounded kits,” ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet said in Geneva. “We are also looking at donating dead body bags to hospitals which are actually asking for them and hope to donate fuel to the main hospitals because they depend on generators.”
The United Nations called for a humanitarian pause in Sanaa between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to allow civilians to leave their homes, aid workers to reach them, and the wounded to get medical care.
STREETS ARE “BATTLEGROUNDS”
Jamie McGoldrick, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, said in a statement that the streets of Sanaa had become “battlegrounds” and that aid…