Yemeni army, Shiite rebels clashes leave five killed

Sana’a, March 23: At least three Yemeni soldiers and two Shiite Houthi rebels were killed Saturday in their clashes in northern province of Amran, officials said.

The clashes broke out at a government military checkpoint in the northern entrance of Amran, about 50 km from capital city of Sana’a, when the rebels insisted to enter the city with heavy weapons to participate in a demonstration to demand the resignation of the national coalition government, Xinhua reported.

Officials said several others from both sides were wounded in the clashes, adding that the rebels also besieged Amran’s other entrances.

The Shiite Houthi group have seized several towns in northern provinces of Hajja, al-Jaw and Amran after deadly fighting with Sunni tribal residents over the past months.

Sectarian conflicts have been rising in Yemen’s northern provinces since the eruption of protests against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.

The sectarian conflicts intensified last October, as clashes in Dammaj, Saada province, left more than 850 people dead.

The government brokered a ceasefire agreement in January between the rival groups and evacuated around 15,000 Sunni families from Dammaj town.

Shiite rebels have controlled the northern Saada province since they signed a ceasefire deal with the government in August 2010, ending a six-year intermittent war.

IANS