x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Yemen says Houthi rebel leader may be dead

The Yemeni defence ministry says on its website that Abdul-Malik al-Houthi was wounded in an attack and might have died from his wounds.

DUBAI // The leader of Yemen's Shi'ite rebels may have died after being severely wounded by government forces in the north of the country, a Yemeni government website reported on Sunday. The rebels could not immediately be reached and their website did not comment on the reports. Government troops in Yemen, the poorest Arab state, have been battling Shiite rebels, known as Houthis after the family name of their leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, who complain of social, religious and economic discrimination.

The Yemeni defence ministry said on its website that al Houthi was wounded in an attack by government forces and might have died from his wounds. The website added there were reports that he had been buried in Jabel Tolan in the Malaheeth area. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said the rebel leader was dead, citing unnamed Yemeni sources he was killed in an air strike. Yemeni news websites carried the same report.

There have been rumours about Abdul-Malik's death in the past but the latest reports appear to be stronger. The conflict drew in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the top Opec oil exporter, after the Houthis seized Saudi territory last month, prompting Riyadh to launch a military campaign against them. The United States and Saudi Arabia fear al Qa'eda will exploit instability in Yemen, which also faces a separatist movement in the south, to stage attacks on neighbouring states and beyond.

* Reuters