Yemen's rebel leader 'is dead'

The field commander of the Houthi rebels, Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, has died in hospital after being captured, according to medical sources cited by the Yemen Post.

On Sunday, several local websites reported that Houthi – regarded by the authorities as the most dangerous man in Yemen – had been arrested by the military after being injured in an air strike.

The Yemen Post says he was transferred in a coma to the 48 Military Hospital in Sanaa with a serious wound to the back of his head. Ultrasound tests showed massive bleeding in the brain.

So far there has been no statement from the Yemeni government but there is no reason to doubt the Yemen Post's report. 

The rebels are no longer claiming that the reports are untrue. Their spokesman in Saada, Mohammad AbduSalam, toldNewsYemen: “We are not allowed to make statements on this issue. We will only respond to official claims, but we are not ready to respond to claims by other sources."

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 21 October 2009 at 19.50 BST.