Death toll rises to 51 in clashes in N Yemen

16:32, July 22, 2010      

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Fierce clashes in northern Yemen between Shiite rebels and pro-government tribesmen, in which government troops also involved, killed at least 25 people on Thursday, rising the death toll to at least 51 during the past five days, an official at the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

A ministry official said on condition of anonymity that the overnight battle killed 15 soldiers of the Yemeni Republican Guards and about 10 pro-government tribesmen of Sheikh Sageer Aziz in Harf Sufian district of Amran province, some 60 km north of the capital Sanaa.

On Tuesday, a provincial security official had told Xinhua that at least 18 tribesmen and eight northern Shiite rebels were killed in the clash.

The escalating battles that also cut off the highway between provinces of Amran and Saada came following an ambush that killed three Shiite rebels who are also known as the Houthis. 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.

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