Deaths as Houthis open fire at Yemen protest

Forces loyal to Hadi drive Houthi fighters from two towns they had seized

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Houthi rebels opened fire on Tuesday at demonstrators in the Yemeni city of Taez, killing eight protesters and wounding 120 others, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

The rebels attacked the demonstrators as they gathered for the third consecutive day to protest the militia's arrival in Taez, after the Houthis sent thousands of troops south from the capital Sanaa, which they control.

Also on Tuesday, forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi drove Houthi fighters from two towns they had seized, residents said, according to Reuters news agency.

But other Houthi units overnight entered the Red Sea port of al-Mukha, security officials and residents said, placing the Iranian-backed fighters a short drive from the Bab al-Mandeb strait, a sea-lane vital to oil shipments.

Fighting has spread across Yemen since last September when the Houthis seized Sanaa and advanced into Sunni Muslim areas.

Hadi, a former general seen by the Shiite Muslim Houthis as a pawn of Sunni Gulf Arab monarchies and the West, has been holed up in Aden since he fled Sanaa in February.

His forces have stationed tanks and artillery on a number of roads linking north and south Yemen. An array of tribesmen, militiamen and army units loyal to him are resisting the southward advance of the Houthis.

The rise of the Houthis has opened a new chapter of instability in Yemen.

On Saturday, the United States evacuated its remaining personnel from Yemen, including about 100 special operations personnel, because of deteriorating security.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen appealed on Monday for Gulf Arab military intervention to halt the Houthi advances.

[With Reuters]

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