Yemen: 20 killed as Houthis fight with tribesmen

The clashes come after fighting between Houthis and al-Qaeda killed at least 10 people in central Yemen on Thursday

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Clashes between Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels and Sunni tribesman in the southern province of Ibb killed at least 20 people on Friday, Al Arabiya correspondent in the capital Sanaa reported.

The rebels, who have been advancing into mainly Sunni areas of Yemen, met deadly resistance from the heavily-armed tribesmen as well as al-Qaeda militants, according tribal and security sources said.

Also read: Houthis advance in Yemen despite power-sharing deal

Tribesmen battled the rebels around the city of Ibb, southwest of the capital, which the rebels entered earlier this week, the sources said.

The fighting came after hundreds of armed tribesmen demonstrated outside the governor's office in the city on Thursday evening demanding the withdrawal of the rebels.

Deputy governor Ali al-Zanam responded that the rebels had told him they advanced into Ibb to “confront what they described as security gaps and hunt down wanted” Al-Qaeda militants, according to AFP, which cited local media reports..

The rebels clashed with al-Qaeda militants overnight in Baida province further east, leaving “dozens” of casualties, tribal and security sources said.

The rebels have clashed repeatedly with al-Qaeda in the province since Tuesday.

The Sunni extremists have vowed to resist the Shiite rebel advance in the name of Sunni Islam.

Rival groups are seeking to exploit a power vacuum in impoverished Yemen, which has been in political deadlock since the rebels took control of the capital Sanaa on Sept. 21.

The rebels, who were previously based in the northern highlands where Yemen's Zaidi Shiite minority is concentrated, have since made significant advances in provinces south of Sanaa.

They took the Sunni majority Red Sea port city of Hudeida on Monday, and on Wednesday, they appeared to have taken control, unopposed, of Dhamar and Ibb provinces, security officials said.

The rebels' Zaidi sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, makes up approximately a third of the Sunni-majority country's population.

[With AFP]

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