Zaidi rebel leader may be dead, reports government website

Zaidi Shiite rebel leader Abdul Malek al-Huthi may have been killed and buried following airstrikes in Saada province last week, according to a Yemeni Government website.


AFP - The leader of Yemen's Zaidi Shiite rebels Abdul Malek al-Huthi may have been killed following an air raid last week and buried, a website linked to the defence ministry reported on Sunday.

"There are increasing reports of the death of the terrorist Abdul Malek al-Huthi, who suffered serious injuries in an (air) raid," in the northern mountainous province of Saada, according to the website

"Information indicates that he was buried in Jebel Talan overlooking the Malahidh near the house of one of the relatives of the Huthi family, Ahmed al-Hadawi," it said.

It was not possible to confirm the report with the rebels, as their spokesmen could not be reached on Sunday.

The defence ministry said on December 20 that Huthi had been seriously injured in an air strike. However, a man named Ali, who claimed to be a spokesman for the rebels, described the claim as "baseless."

The Yemeni government has been engaged in sporadic fighting with the rebels, also known as Huthis after their leader, since 2004.

The latest round broke out on August 11, when government forces launched "Operation Scorched Earth" -- an all-out offensive to stamp out the uprising among the Zaidi Shiite community, a minority in mainly Sunni Yemen but the majority group in the northern mountains.

Saudi Arabia joined the fray on 4 November, carrying out strikes on Huthi positions a day after it accused Yemen rebels of killing a Saudi border guard and occupying two villages in Saudi territory.

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