Sectarian Strife In Yemen, 53 Killed

SANAA – Muslim Houthi rebels pressed their offensive on Saturday against a town in north Yemen held by Salafi rebels bringing the total death toll in four days of sectarian clashes to 55.

Spokesman Serour al-Wadei denied a statement on the Yemeni defense ministry website saying that the fighting in the town of Damaj had ended on Friday afternoon and that the Yemeni army had taken up positions in the troubled area.

The spokesman for the puritanical Sunni Muslim group said the Shia militias, using rockets and tank shells, had killed 15 more Salafis and wounded at least 30 in their latest attack on Damaj, which lies in the mountainous Saada province that has long been outside Yemeni central government control.

Saada is the base for a long-running Shia Houthi rebellion against the Sanaa government. Saudi Arabia’s military intervened in 2009 before a ceasefire took hold the year after. The province has since fallen openly into Houthi hands with a Houthi-imposed governor.

The latest fighting erupted on Wednesday despite government mediation efforts to salvage a ceasefire in place for a year.

A Houthi statement on Wednesday accused the Salafis of igniting strife by bringing thousands of foreign fighters to Damaj. The Salafis say the foreigners are students there to study Islamic theology in a seminary built in the 1980s. Agencies

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