A medic gives a defendant water before being executed after being convicted with eight others of involvement in the assassination of Huthi political leader Saleh al-Sammad three years ago, at a public square in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, on September 18, 2021. AFP
Yemen's Houthi rebels said they executed nine people on Saturday for involvement in the killing of one of their top leaders in a 2018 air strike claimed by Saudi Arabia.
Saleh al-Sammad was head of the Houthis' supreme political council and his death three years ago was seen as a major blow to the Iran-backed rebels who control Sanaa.
The pro-rebel Saba news agency said the nine were shot by a firing squad at a square in the Yemen capital.
They were among 17 people convicted of involvement in his killing by a Houthi court.
Sammad was killed in April 2018 alongside six other people in an air strike in the western Yemeni province of Hodeida.
"The general prosecution has carried out the death sentence against nine people involved in the murder" of Sammad, Saba reported.
"They were shot to death in Tahrir Square... in the presence of senior Houthi leaders and Sanaa residents," the agency added.
Saudi Arabia said later that it carried out the air strike.
"The heroes of the Royal Air Force were able to successfully target the leader of the Huthi militia Saleh al-Sammad," Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Khaled bin Salman, tweeted at the time.
Prince Khaled said the strike was overseen by the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, after Sammad threatened a wave of missile strikes against Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis are battling the Saudi-backed Yemeni government -- and a military coalition spearheaded by Riyadh -- for control of the impoverished country.
The conflict began in 2014 when the Houthis seized Sanaa, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year.
Since then, tens of thousands have been killed and millions pushed to the brink of famine in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Sammad was the most senior Huthi leader to have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the country.
The Houthis -- who had vowed to avenge his death -- have regularly launched ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia.
In August this year they escalated cross-border attacks by also using drones.
*This article had been edited by Ahram Online