Yemen rebels claim powerful ex-president has been killed - UPDATE

SANAA, Yemen (AP) - UPDATE: A video by Yemen's Houthi rebels allegedly shows the slain body of the country's former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Officials from various sides, including the Houthis' opponents, have confirmed that the video shows the former powerful president.

Abdel-Rahman al-Ahnomi, a top Houthi media official, told The Associated Press that Saleh was killed near Marib, the eastern province bordering Saudi Arabia. "He was trying to flee to Saudi," he said.

The video, apparently shot by one of the attackers, showed a Houthi crowd picking up Saleh's dead body, wrapped in a colorful blanket, off the ground and lifting it onto a pickup truck. Saleh's eyes appear wide open, the back of his head badly injured, and his shirt blood stained under a dark suit.

A senior Yemeni government official affiliated with Houthis' rivals and some of Saleh's associates, such as Nabil al-Soufi and Ali al-Bukhiti, confirmed his death on social media and TV interviews.

ORIGINAL: Yemen's Houthi rebels say former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled the country for more than three decades and played a pivotal role in the country's ongoing civil war, has been killed.

The Houthi-run Masirah TV announced the death of the "leader of the traitors" on Monday, referring to Saleh, who until last week was in a fragile alliance with the rebels. It gave no further details.

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

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press. It was not immediately possible to confirm the authenticity of the video, which was circulating widely.

Saleh ruled Yemen for more than three decades until he was forced to resign following an Arab Spring uprising in 2011. He remained in the country, however, and continued to wield power from behind the scenes. In 2014, his forces allied with the Houthis despite the fact that as president he had gone to war with them on more than one occasion.

The rebel alliance splintered last week, setting off heavy clashes between the Houthis and Saleh's forces.

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Yemenis in the war-torn country's capital crowded into basements overnight as Saudi-led fighter jets pounded the positions of Houthi rebels, who are now fighting forces loyal to a former president for control of the city.

Suze van Meegen, Sanaa-based protection and advocacy adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said Monday that the violence left aid workers trapped inside their homes and was "completely paralyzing humanitarian operations."

Fighting erupted between the Iranian-allied Shiite rebels and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh last week, unraveling their fragile alliance, formed in the face of the internationally-recognized government and Saudi-led coalition.

The breakdown of the alliance has led the coalition to step up its bombing of Houthi positions, in support of Saleh's forces.