SANAA: Clashes between Shiite rebels and government-allied tribesmen have killed at least 35 people and wounded 40 others in some of the fiercest fighting to hit the country in months, a Yemeni security official said Sunday.
The rebels have been battling tribesmen from Yemen’s largest tribal confederation, the Hashid, which is backed by an army unit and allied with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islah party. Houthis are backed by supporters from smaller tribes.
The official said Sunday 15 soldiers and 20 rebels were killed in two days of fighting that began Friday in and around the city of Amran, northwest of the capital, Sanaa.
National army units fought with the tribesmen and military warplanes struck the rebels who tried to attack a government compound late Saturday, the official said.
Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, is facing multiple challenges. In addition to threats from an active Al-Qaeda offshoot, it faces a secessionist movement in the south and the Hawthi rebellion in the north.
The Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi sect, a Shiite branch, accuse ultraconservative Salafists of trying to proselytize in their strongholds.
Also Sunday, suspected Al-Qaeda militants attacked an army patrol, killing six soldiers in the southern province of Abyan, military and security officials said.
The government has waged repeated offensives to drive out the militants from the south, most recently this spring. The group retaliated with a series of attacks against troops and security.