SANAA: Yemen’s ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by Huthi rebels on Monday as he fled heavy fighting in Sanaa after the collapse of his alliance with the Iran-backed insurgents.
Saleh, who ruled with an iron fist for three decades, had joined forces with the Shiite Huthi rebels in 2014 when they took control of large parts of the Arabian Peninsula country including the capital Sanaa.
But that alliance unravelled over the past week, with heavy fighting across the capital, and Saleh was shot dead by Huthi fighters after he fled the city.
Speaking later on television, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, the leader of the internationally recognised government, called on Yemenis to unite against the Huthis.
“Let s join hands to end the control of these.. criminal gangs and… open a new chapter to rid our beloved Yemen of this nightmare,” Hadi said from Saudi Arabia, where he lives in exile.
Saleh was forced to step down in 2012, after his forces waged a bloody crackdown on peaceful Arab Spring-inspired protests calling for his ouster.
The 75-year-old had survived civil war, rebellion in the north, an Al-Qaeda insurgency in the south and a June 2011 bomb attack on his palace that wounded him badly.
His death could mark a major turning point in a conflict that has left thousands dead, led to one of the world s worst humanitarian crises and deepened tensions between Middle East rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.