Al Qaeda Offers 44 lbs of Gold to Capture or Kill Yemeni Leader: SITE

A man reacts at the site of an air strike in Sanaa April 8, 2015. Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda has offered a bounty of 20 kg (44 lb) of gold for the capture or killing of the leader of Yemen's Houthi forces and his ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the SITE monitoring group said on Wednesday.

The offer was made in a video distributed by al Qaeda's media arm, SITE said.

Yemen's Shi'ite Muslim Houthis, led by Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, seized control of the capital Sanaa six months ago and launched an offensive in southern Yemen last month, backed by soldiers loyal to Saleh.

Saudi Arabia, alarmed by the growing power of the Iran-allied Houthis, launched air strikes against them two weeks ago, seeking to drive back the Houthi advance and restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the jihadi movement's Yemeni wing, has exploited the conflict, storming the town of Mukalla last week and freeing a jailed local al Qaeda leader.

Suspected al Qaeda militants also attacked a remote eastern border post on the frontier with Saudi Arabia.

Houthis are part of Yemen's Shi'ite Muslim Zaydi minority, considered infidel by hardline Sunni Islamist movements such as al Qaeda.