MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Sunni militants pledged in a video address to give 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of gold to "whoever kills or captures" Abdul Malik Houthi, leader of the Shiite Houthi rebels, and Ali Abdullah Saleh, the long-serving president of Yemen who stepped down and paved the way for the current embattled leader.
The situation in Yemen rapidly deteriorated over the past several weeks, while rival militant forces have capitalized on the power vacuum left in the wake of the 2011 anti-government uprising known as the Arab Spring.
Riyadh believes the rebels' success in seizing substantial parts of Yemen lies in Saleh's tacit support of the Houthis behind the scenes.
Saleh served as the first president of Yemen in 1990-2012 after overseeing the unification of North Yemen and South Yemen in 1990. He previously served as president of North Yemen from 1978.
AQAP's latest announcement comes against the backdrop of updated figures released on Wednesday by the World Health Organization, which show that nearly 650 people have been killed and over 2,200 injured since the escalation of the conflict in mid-March.
Washington considers AQAP to be the most dangerous and sophisticated branch of al-Qaeda and, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, has killed around 600 of its members in drone strikes over the past 13 years in Yemen.