Last updated: 9 November, 2013

Sectarian fighting resumes in north Yemen

Deadly clashes resumed Saturday between Zaidi Shiite rebels and Sunni Islamists in northern Yemen, both sides said, a day after the Red Cross evacuated 44 wounded during a lull.

The fighting, which first erupted late last month, has centred on a Salafist mosque and Koranic school in the town of Dammaj that has been besieged by the rebels, known as Huthis after their leading family.

“Intermittent confrontations have taken place… during an attack by the Huthis on the mosque in Dammaj that has killed one person and wounded seven,” Salafist spokesman Khaled al-Ghorbani said.

A rebel leader, Ali al-Bahiti, confirmed the resumed fighting.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said its staff took advantage of a lull on Friday to evacuate some of the wounded, including a woman who was eight months pregnant and four children.

It added that they had also delivered enough dressings to both sides to treat up to 600 wounded, as well as medicines to treat diarrhoea and respiratory ailments.

UN special envoy Jamal Benomar warned last week that the fighting in Dammaj “threatens the security of Yemen.”

“Large groups of gunmen are being mobilised from different areas. This would have serious security implications,” he said.

The Huthis have been battling the central government for nearly a decade in remote Saada province, but the latest fighting between the rebels and the Salafists has given an added sectarian dimension to the fighting.