The war in Yemen, the Arab world's most destitute country, plunged into a new and uncertain chapter Monday when its former president was killed amid an explosive bout of fighting that has convulsed the capital.
Footage circulating on social media appeared to display a body resembling Saleh, with one video showing how armed militiamen used a blanket to move the corpse into the back of a pick-up truck.
Many pro-Saleh tribes are now expected to either join the legitimate forces or avoid supporting the Houthis.
A senior official with Yemen's internationally-recognized government confirmed to The Associated Press that Saleh had been killed.
Without mentioning Saleh by name, al-Houthi said that he knew about Saleh's communication with the coalition and his efforts to turn against the Houthi group. Meanwhile, aerial bombardment and blockades of Yemeni territory, carried out with the assistance of Western powers, have put millions of civilians in the impoverished country at risk of mass starvation.
"Its forces had taken over all the positions and strongholds of the treacherous militia in the capital, Sanna, and the surrounding areas, as well as other provinces in order to impose security". It gave no further details. Most people were indoors, and streets were deserted amid a state of fear as the Houthis asserted full control.
In a televised statement on Saturday, the former president expressed his openness to talks with a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels, in what the fighters called "a coup" against their fragile alliance.
REUTERS Mohamed al-SayaghiYemeni President Hadi Urges Yemenis to Unite Against Houthi Rebels After Killing of Saleh- Reports
The fighting continued on Monday, with reports of heavy clashes and coalition strikes against Houthi-controlled government buildings and around Sanaa airport.
The call came as his supporters battled Houthi fighters for a fourth day in the capital Sanaa while both sides traded blame for a widening rift between allies that could affect the course of the civil war.
In the wake of Yemen's failed Arab Spring uprising, President Saleh was replaced by his deputy Hadi. He remained, however, a key player in the years that followed and played a pivotal role in the country's ongoing conflict.
Unverified footage of his bloodied body lolling in a blanket circulated just days after he tore up his alliance with the Houthis following almost three years in which they had jointly battled the Saudi-led coalition that intervened to try to reinstate Yemen's internationally recognised government.
Houthi went on to blast Saleh for betraying the loyalty of those he had worked with and claimed the ordinary people of the capital could not understand how he had changed sides after three years of denouncing the Saudi-led coalition.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition intervened to reinstate Hadi's government.
"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. "Before there were two leaderships, two different agendas, two different ways how to win the war".