Pictures and video circulated online showed the body of a man resembling Mr Saleh with a severe head wound.
Until last week, Mr Saleh’s supporters had been fighting alongside the Houthis in a war against Yemen’s current president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.But longstanding political tensions and a dispute over control of the main mosque in the rebel-controlled capital, Sanaa, triggered fierce clashes that have left more than 125 people dead and 238 wounded since Wednesday night.
On Saturday, Mr Saleh offered to “turn a new page” with the Saudi-led coalition backing Mr Hadi if it stopped attacking Yemen and ended its crippling blockade.
The coalition and Mr Hadi’s government welcomed the comments. But the Houthis accused Mr Saleh of staging a “coup” against “an alliance he never believed in”.
More than 8,670 people have been killed and 49,960 injured since the coalition intervened in the civil war in March 2015, according to the UN.
The conflict and the blockade have also left 20.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world’s largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have killed 2,211 people since April.