18 killed in armed attack in northern Yemen

18 killed in armed attack in northern Yemen
# 02 November 2013 00:50 (UTC +04:00)

Baku_APA. At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 others injured on Friday in an armed attack by Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen's northern province of Saada, tribal leaders told Xinhua, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The Shiite Houthi fighters backed by armored vehicles and tanks attacked the Sunni-controlled northern town of Dammaj, the local tribal sources said on condition of anonymity.

"Houthi tanks took up positions around the entrances of Dammaj town. Dozens of people were killed and several others injured in the continuous shelling and armed confrontations there," one of the tribal sources said.

A medical source confirmed the toll, saying that most of the wounded were children and many of them are in critical condition.

According to local government sources, hundreds of local residents fled the town of Dammaj to avoid the heavy shootout and explosions of rocket-propelled grenades in the region.

An official of the Shiite Houthi told Xinhua that "Sunni fighters attacked our religious centers first and tried to take control of several regions in Saada province," adding that "the Sunni fighters use religion as a cover for their operations."

Friday's attack brought the total death toll in three days of sectarian clashes to 47 and more than 200 wounded people.

Dammaj town lies near the Saada province, which borders top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. Saada is a stronghold for Shiite rebels who have been in control of most of the province since they signed a ceasefire deal with the Yemeni government in August, 2010 ending a sporadic war that began 2004.

The Sunni Salafists leaders called on the Yemeni government and some prominent tribes to immediately intervene to stop the fighting.

The Shiite Houthi rebels have been involved in sectarian clashes with armed Sunni tribesmen for years, forcing thousands of Sunni residents to flee the area.

The well-armed Houthis joined the national reconciliation dialogue, which began in March and aims to find a way to settle the conflicts in the country's northern regions.