Officials: Clash in Yemen town kills 250 in 3 days

Ahmed Al-Haj
Associated Press

Sanaa, Yemen — Fighting in central Yemen between Shiite Houthi rebels and an influential tribe in the town of Radda killed at least 250 people over three days of clashes, security officials said Monday.

The violence in Yemen’s central Bayda province saw fighters from the strong Qifa tribe force the Houthis out of the Manasih area in Radda, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists.

Last week, the Houthis entered Radda, some 125 miles south of the capital, Sanaa, after the commander of the army’s Battalion 193 gave up his troops positions. The commander is said to be a loyalist of the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed after the country’s 2011 uprising.

The Houthis, widely suspected of having links to Shiite powerhouse Iran, gained control of Sanaa in September and have waged ongoing battles with opposing tribes and militants from al-Qaida’s Yemen branch.

A peace agreement signed between the Houthis and the government so far has failed to end the fighting.

Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has lashed out at Houthis for the first time since they seized Sanaa.

“The armed expansion of the Houthis in several provinces and areas under different unsubstantial excuses and slogans is incomprehensible or acceptable after signing the peace and national partnership agreement,” Hadi said Sunday.

Hadi spoke at a joint meeting of the National Defense Council attended by presidential advisers and the country’s newly nominated Prime Minister, Khaled Bahah.

Saleh and his party have joined ranks with the Houthis against a common enemy — the Islamist Islah party and its allied tribe of Al-Ahmar, traditional power brokers in Yemen.

The Houthi offensive has pushed Yemen into even deeper turmoil. Apart from the rampant al-Qaida insurgency and the Shiite rebel blitz, the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country has also endured crushing poverty that has bred resentment — and outright rebellion — that took root in a secessionist movement in its once-independent southern region.