As Yemen and the wider region comes to terms with the killing of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, discussions about the nature of his death continue to rage on.
Saleh’s supporters in his General People’s Congress party claim that the former leader was killed when Houthi rebels attacked his house earlier this week, in contrast to the majority of claims that suggest he was attempting to escape the country after being branded a traitor by the Houthi movement.
“He never left his house. What took place was a disgusting fabricated attempt to make Ali Abdullah Saleh look like he was fleeing – and this did not happen. There is evidence to show he was not killed today but in fact he was killed yesterday. Saleh did not retreat,” said an advisor to the Yemeni ministry of defence, Brigadier Yahia Abu Hatem, on Egyptian ON Live TV.
A viral video apparently showing the body of Saleh being carried in a blanket appears to show gunshot wounds to the head, but some of his supporters are sceptical of the video’s authenticity, noting the absence of blood on the blanket.
“The video they broadcast to show his lifeless corpse had no blood whatsoever this is evidence that he was not killed in that moment but at another time and location,” Hatem said, also noting that images of Saleh’s ID were taken inside his home, suggesting that this was where the attack took place.
The attack on Saleh on Monday also led to the deaths of several of his supporters, including his personal security chief, Colonel Ali Hussein Hamidi, and party members Aref Zouka and Yaser al-Awaadi.
Saleh’s break with the Houthis late last week led to fierce fighting between the two forces, with several hundred thought to have been killed in gunfights.
Other reports have indicated that talks between Saleh and the Houthis on Sunday night gave Saleh the option of remaining under house arrest and ceding control of Sana’a to the Houthis, but that Saleh refused this. Al Jazeera reports that multiple sources claimed Saleh was expecting a role in a future government led by Saudi-backed forces.
More than 10,000 people have died over the three years of fighting between the Houthi rebels, alongside their once ally Saleh, against the Saudi-led Arab coalition. The UN has claimed that civilians in Yemen are now facing the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster.