Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Yemen rebels disperse protests demanding slain leader's body

Yemen rebels disperse protests demanding slain leader's body

Heavy airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition rocked Yemen's capital Tuesday, striking Sanaa's densely populated neighborhoods in apparent retaliation for the killing of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh by the Shiite rebels who control the city.

Houthi-controlled al-Masirah TV cited the interior ministry as announcing the "end of the crisis of the treason militia and the killing of its leader".

Saleh's former Houthi Shiite allies claim he was killed for "treason" for reportedly seeking to switch alliance to the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Houthis for almost three years. The former president was seen to have switched sides after saying on Saturday that he was open to talks with the Saudi-led coalition.

Media reported that the Houthis had made a condition that the body of the politician could be given to his family only if his burial was attended only by his family.

Saleh and the Houthis used to be allies in the struggle against the government headed by President Abd-Rabbu Hadi.

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The government also reached out to Saleh's supporters with an offer of amnesty.

Yemen Al Youm TV is affiliated with the General People's Congress, Saleh's party.

Yemen's minister of information called upon the Houthi armed group to release the journalists and urged worldwide organisations to "leave the status of passive onlookers and take acts to press the militias to stop tormenting all the Yemeni journalists", Muammar Al- Eryani told Saba Net.

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Yemen's civil war has emerged as one of the main battlegrounds in the Saudi-Iranian rivalry for regional influence. It was not immediately possible to confirm the authenticity of the video, which was circulating widely.

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Saleh ruled Yemen for more than three decades until an Arab Spring uprising forced him to step down in 2012.

The rebel alliance splintered last week, setting off heavy clashes between the Houthis and Saleh's forces.

Saleh's slaying likely gives the rebels the upper hand in the clashes in Sanaa, which ended after his death, while also dashing the hopes of Yemen's Saudi-backed government that the former president's recent split with the Iranian-allied Houthis would have weakened them.

Suze van Meegen, Sanaa-based protection and advocacy adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said Monday that the violence left aid workers trapped inside their homes and was "completely paralyzing humanitarian operations".

Houthi rebels in Yemen have held dozens of journalists captive for days at a television station in the capital and a media watchdog has demanded their immediate release.

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On Wednesday, the Saudi coalition stepped up airstrikes against Houthi positions as the rebels tightened their control on Sanaa.

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