Last updated: 27 May, 2014

Yemeni Shiite rebels kill five soldiers

Shiite rebels in northern Yemen attacked army positions and killed five soldiers, prompting renewed clashes on between the two sides on Tuesday, local officials and medics said.

The Shiite Huthi rebels launched attacks on three army posts on the northern and eastern entrances to the city of Amran, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Sanaa and wounded several other troops, sources said, adding a local tribe had backed the rebels.

The attacks sparked clashes that continued throughout Tuesday morning that left several rebels dead and wounded, according to witnesses.

On May 20, medics said 25 soldiers and rebels were killed in similar clashes in Amran, a stronghold of the insurgents who have tried to bolster their standing in the region by holding armed parades and anti-military protests.

The rebels are suspected of trying to enlarge their sphere of influence as the country is set to be split into six regions, pushing out from their mountain strongholds in the far north to areas closer to the capital Sanaa.

The rebels complained Yemen would be divided into rich and poor regions under the federalisation plan agreed in February following national talks that were part of a political transition.

Huthis have been fighting the central government for years, complaining of marginalisation under ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in 2012 after a year of protests.

In February, they seized areas of Amran province in fighting with tribes that left more than 150 people dead.

The rebels, known also as Ansarullah, had to withdraw from some of these areas following a truce with the armed tribes and as the army deployed halting the advance of the rebels towards the capital.