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Deadly Houthi clashes intensify in central Yemen

The clashes occurred in the town of Yareem in Ibb province, where youths had earlier staged anti-Houthi protests

Published: Updated:

At least 16 people were killed in central Yemen on Saturday amid clashes between Shiite Houthi fighters and tribesmen, including supporters of the Sunni Muslim party Islah, an Al Arabiya News Channel correspondent reported.

Saturday's fighting in the town of Yareem in Ibb province came after 15 people were killed in fighting on Friday between Sunni tribesmen and Houthi rebels on the outskirts and in the city of Ibb, 150 km south of Sanaa.

Eyewitnesses told Reuters dozens of bodies of fighters from both sides were strewn on the main street in Yareem. In a letter seen by Reuters, the police chief of Ibb province resigned after the Houthis entered Ibb.

"There are heavy clashes now between the Houthi fighters and the supporters of Islah. It's a very scary situation," a local Ibb official told Reuters.

The Houthis reportedly agreed to withdraw from Ibb in the early hours of Sunday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported

The Houthis established themselves as powerbrokers in Yemen last month, capturing the capital, Sanaa, on Sept. 21. The weak administration of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi put up little resistance.

Clashes between Houthis, Sunni tribesmen and fighters from al-Qaeda, who regard the Houthis as heretics, have since intensified across several provinces in Yemen, alarming neighboring oil-exporting giant Saudi Arabia.