Dozens of people have been killed in weekend clashes in northern Yemen between the army, allied tribes and Shiite Huthi rebels, military and tribal sources said Sunday.
The Huthis — also known as Ansarullah — have advanced from their mountain strongholds towards Sanaa in a suspected attempt to expand their sphere of influence as Yemen is reorganised into six regions.
The clashes intensified on Saturday in the western neighbourhoods of Amran city, as well as eastern and southern outskirts, and Yemeni fighter jets bombed rebel positions around the city, various sources said.
A medical official in Amran said “at least 40 people were killed” in the western neighbourhoods of the city.
Military and tribal sources said dozens were killed in other neighbourhoods.
“Our hospital received 20 dead bodies, including soldiers, tribal fighters and rebels, and 60 wounded, some with serious injuries,” said an official at Amran’s main hospital.
“The number of casualties is beyond our capacity,” he said.
Huthis have been battling the central government for years from their Saada heartland, complaining of marginalisation under former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 after a year-long uprising.
Clashes erupted anew last month in the north, ending an 11-day truce agreed after mediation backed by United Nations envoy Jamal Benomar.
The rebels say a federalisation plan agreed in February after national talks as part of a political transition would divide Yemen into rich and poor regions.
They seized areas of Amran province in fighting with tribes in February that killed more than 150 people