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Hadi urges Yemenis to join fight against Iran-backed Houthis after ex-president Saleh shot dead

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JEDDAH — Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Monday rallied his countrymen in areas controlled by Houthis to rise up against the Iran-backed militia, who had just murdered their erstwhile ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

In a televised address, Hadi said the Yemeni Army, which has surrounded Sanaa, was ready to support all efforts that aimed to eradicate the Houthis.

“Yemen is passing through a decisive turning point that needs our unity and steadfastness in the face of these sectarian militias,” Hadi said, adding, “Let’s put our hands together to end this nightmare.”

The legitimate Yemeni government had extended its hand to all sincere Yemeni citizens to start a new page in the country’s future and to establish a new Yemen, based on pluralism, democracy and freedom, he said.

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Former president Saleh was shot dead on Monday itself after taking sides in Yemen’s civil war, abandoning his Iran-aligned Houthi allies in favour of a Saudi-led coalition, foes and supporters said.

Sources in the Houthi militia said its fighters stopped Saleh’s armoured vehicle with an RPG rocket outside the embattled capital Sanaa and then shot him dead. Sources in Saleh’s party confirmed he died in an attack on his convoy.

Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, in a televised speech,congratulated the Yemeni people for what he described as a victory against a “conspiracy of treason” engineered by the group’s Gulf Arab enemies without mentioning Saleh’s death.

Saleh, 75, had said in a speech on Saturday that he was ready for a “new page” in ties with the coalition and called the Houthis a “coup militia”, leading them to accuse him of betrayal.

With Agency Inputs

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

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