Such co-operation helped al-Hindi avoid several previous assassination attempts.

 

The mountainous Saada province has been the scene of some of the worst confrontations between the Zaidi sect and the Yemeni authorities.

 

The idea of the republic was accepted by some Ziadis and rejected by others, which led to a series of violent clashes between the conflicting parties.

 

Since 2004, the Ziadi sect, comprising between 45 to 50 per cent of the population, have left thousands of people dead.

 

Many Ziadis dismiss the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, as illegitimate, although Saleh is himself a Zaidi.

 

Their movement, known as al-Huthein after the late commander Hussein Badr Eddin al-Huthi, aims to restore the Zaidi imamate that was overthrown in 1962.

 

Saleh has led Yemen since the unification of north and south in 1990. Before that he led North Yemen for 12 years.

 

Reconciliation halt

 

The parliamentarian's death comes as a government reconciliation body called on Friday for al-Huthein rebels to withdraw from a number of armed positions.

 

In a statement issued from the Yemeni capital Sanaa, the commission said its members would return to Saada for the implementation of a Qatar-backed reconciliation agreement only once rebels withdrew.

 

The government body also accused the rebels of "procrastination tactics" - a charge al-Huthein negotiators deny.