Yemen's strongman ex-president killed as battle rages in capital

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Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed on Monday by gunmen of Ansar Allah al-Houthi group after the bombing of his home in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

But there was no independent confirmation, however, pictures circulated on social media appeared to show Saleh's body.

Several Houthi military officials said Saleh was killed as he headed along with top party leaders from Sanaa to his hometown of Sanhan, nearby.

Houthis have recently turned on Saleh, however, and said Monday that they had killed their former ally.

BBC World Service journalist Mai Noman said: "Saleh's death: shocking not just bec he ruled #Yemen for over 30yrs, he's been the key player in every major event even after being ousted".

In a speech late on Sunday, apparently his last, Saleh formally annulled his alliance with the Houthis.

A senior official with Yemen's internationally-recognized government confirmed to The Associated Press that Saleh had been killed, sending video purportedly showing Saleh's body being carried away by a group of armed men chanting, "Allahu akbar".

But in recent months, the alliance frayed amid Houthi suspicions Saleh was leaning towards the Saudi-led coalition backing Hadi.

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Saleh ruled for 33 years before being toppled in 2012 during popular protests.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh waves to supporters in Sanaa, Yemen, before his ouster in 2011.

"We have notified the leader of the traitor and criminal militias to retract, be wise, to stop his militias from continuing committing crimes", he said, "Today is the day of the fall of the conspiracy of betrayal and treason".

The country descended into a wider civil war that has killed more than 10,000 people while drawing in a Saudi-led military coalition, backed by the United States.

But even without Saleh's loyalists, the rebels remain a powerful force and it is unclear how much the break with Saleh weakens them.

Yemen has since been rocked by rebel infighting.

The education ministry canceled classes on December 3, normally the start of the school week, and witnesses said some bodies of those killed in previous clashes were still lying in the streets, AFP reported.

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