DUBAI, (Reuters) – Yemen’s Shi’ite rebels said on Friday that their leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, had not been seriously wounded, and posted a video on their website showing him in good health.
Earlier this week, a Yemeni official said Houthi had been seriously wounded about a month ago and had entrusted a relative with leading the northern rebellion in his stead.
In a statement accompanying the video clip, the rebels said they had issued it “At the insistence of the majority of media outlets that have contacted us about the necessity to show Abdul-Malik al-Houthi in a video that confirms what we have said time and again: That he is safe and no harm has come to him.”
The government official had said Houthi had sustained serious wounds and his leg had had to be amputated.
The video shows Houthi sitting on a chair and speaking into a microphone, with both legs intact and no visible wounds. Reuters could not immediately verify the date of the recording.
Shi’ite rebels from the Zaidi sect have been fighting government troops in Yemen’s mountaineous north since 2004, complaining of marginalisation.
Yemen is also in the middle of a major crackdown on al Qaeda in several provinces at the same time as trying to contain separatist sentiment in the south.
Yemen’s growing instability has raised fears in the oil-exporting Gulf Arab region that al Qaeda may exploit the chaos to step up operations in the poorest Arab country and use it as a launch pad for attacks elsewhere.