28 July 2010 /REUTERS
Shi’ite rebels captured an army base and several soldiers this week in clashes with the army and tribesmen that killed 10 people and threatened a fragile truce in northern Yemen, rebel and officials said.
Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh accused the rebels, known as Houthis after the name of their leaders’ clan, of trying to ignite a new war with the government. Both the government and the rebels confirmed that a number of soldiers had been taken hostage at the Zuala army base in the flashpoint north district of Harf Sufyan, but neither side would give an exact number of how many men were seized by the Houthis. Among those killed in the clashes were rebels, soldiers, and tribesmen from the Ibn Aziz tribe which allied with the government against the Houthis in the northern war. Both sides declined to say how many men they lost. Yemen agreed a truce with Houthis in February to halt a war that has raged on and off since 2004 and displaced 350,000 people. But instability still threatens Yemen, neighbour to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, which was briefly drawn into the conflict last year when rebels seized Saudi border areas. Houthi rebels complain of socio-economic and religious discrimination by the government, accusations it denies. Tensions between the rebels and the Ibn Aziz tribe, from the same Zaidi sect of Shi’ite Islam but which sides with the government, have increased in past months.