26 killed in rebel clashes in N Yemen

19:47, July 20, 2010      

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At least 18 tribesmen and eight northern Shiite rebels were killed in continuous clashes during the past three days in northern Yemen, a provincial police official said Tuesday.

The fierce clashes are still taking place in Harf Sufian district of the province of Amran, some 60 km north of the capital Sanaa, between tribesmen of Sheikh Sageer Aziz, a pro-government tribal leader of Harf Sufian and Shiite rebels who are known also as the Houthis.

Several others from both sides were wounded, said the official, adding "the tribes managed to repel an aggression by Houthis fighters early Tuesday morning."

The escalating battles that also cut off the highway between provinces of Amran and Saada came following an ambush that left three Houthis dead three days ago. Rebels blamed the government troops for the ambush while the families of the dead Houthis accused Aziz's tribes.

Tribal sources there claimed that a number of the army's armored vehicles backed the tribes in their confrontation on Tuesday against the rebels, while the police officials declined to comment on such allegations.

On July 2, Yemeni Interior Ministry said that Shiite rebels blew up the home of a pro-government tribal chieftain, Sheikh Sageer Aziz, in a northern ceasefire area, killing three followers of Sheikh Aziz who were inside the house.

Since 2004, Yemen has witnessed sporadic battles between government troops and the Shiite Houthi rebels whom the government accused of seeking to re-establish the clerical rule overthrown by the 1962 Yemeni revolution which yielded the Yemeni republic.

On Feb. 11, the government and independence-seeker Shiite rebels struck a truce deal to end a six-year sporadic conflict. Both sides, however, repeatedly trade accusations of breaching the truce which still holds so far.

Source: Xinhua


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