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Recordings: Houthi leaders planned general's killing

Brigadier General Hameed al-Qushaibi was captured by Houthis in July 2014 and later killed.

Houthi gunmen

The assassination of a prominent Yemeni brigadier general by Houthi fighters was ordered by high-ranking rebel commanders, according to audio recordings recently obtained by media.

Brigadier General Hameed al-Qushaibi, who was head of the Yemeni army's Brigade 310, was caputerd in July 2014 and shot dead by eight Houthi gunmen in Amran, a city situated around 50 kilometres north of Sanaa. 

The recordings include phone conversations believed to be between several influential Houthi military leaders, including field commander Youssef al-Madani and military commander Abu Ali al-Hakim.

Both al-Madani and al-Hakim were reportedly killed in air strikes launched by the Saudi coalition-led in Yemen in 2015.

During the phone conversations, it is revealed that the Houthi rebels viewed al-Qushaibi's assassination as revenge for the 2004 killing of the group's founder, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi.

In one conversation which appears to be between Houthi commander Abdullah al-Hasani and al-Madani, the former informs the latter that fighters had already killed al-Qushaibi. 

Al-Madani asks al-Hasani if he was certain that the man they killed was al-Qushaibi, to which he replies: "We've cut him into pieces."

The conversations show that the Houthi leadership decided to conceal the truth about who killed the general, instead planning to claim he committed suicide.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Gulf Arab countries launched an air campaign in March 2015 to push back the Houthis, but the rebels still control the capital and many parts of the country.

The Houthis, who claim to champion the interests of the beleaguered Zaidi Shia community, insist they are fighting to defend themselves against government aggression and marginalisation.

About 9,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the intervention began, the majority of them civilians, according to UN figures. The fighting has also driven 2.8 million people from their homes.

At least 14 million Yemenis, more than half of the country's population, are in need of emergency food and life-saving assistance in order to prevent impending famine in almost half of Yemen's 22 provinces, according to a report this month by the UN and the Yemeni government.

The 15-month conflict has taken a horrifying toll on the country's youth, with UNICEF warning that an estimated 320,000 children face life-threatening malnutrition.

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