SANAA – At least 13 people including three soldiers were killed in two separate clashes in northern Yemen yesterday as government forces continued to hunt for militants loyal to a slain rebel cleric, tribal sources said.
Three soldiers and four suspected members of the outlawed “Believing Youth” movement were killed in the Bani-Muadh suburb of the provincial city of Saada, 250 kilometers north of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, they said.
The Believing Youth group was set up by radical cleric Hussein Badruddin Al-Houthi, who was killed by government forces in similar clashes last September.
Authorities had accused Al-Houthi, a former member of Parliament of setting up an underground armed group and inciting violence against the United States and Israel.
Sources told Arab News six others were killed in a gunbattle between tribesmen belonging to a pro-government clan and others from a clan loyal to Al-Houthi.
They said an ongoing vendetta between the two clans was believed to be behind the fighting, east of Saada, although they speculated that the government hunt for Houthi loyalists may have sparked further inter-tribe violence.
Government sources said they had captured two militant posts during operations late Sunday in the Al-Shafiaa and Jabal-Ayoob districts, arresting dozens of armed suspects, and had encircled more rebel positions in the Um-Essa and Al-Ruzamat areas.
Violent confrontations between government forces and Al-Houthi militants first broke out in June 2004, ending with his death on Sept. 10. More than 400 people were killed during 10 weeks of heavy fighting in isolated mountain terrain.