Yemen says air force kills rebel leader in north

Source: Reuters

SANAA, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Yemen said on Sunday it had killed a leader of northern rebels as the air force continued to attack targets in Saada province, where rights groups say tens of thousands have been displaced. Yemen, an impoverished state of some 23 million people on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is battling al Qaeda militants and secessionist discontent in the south, as well as the rebellion in the mountainous north bordering Saudi Arabia. A government statement quoting a military official said the rebel leader, Ahmed Jaran, was an explosives expert and was killed in Bani Muadh district. “The air force directed hits at rebel hideouts in Saqin, Yasnam, Sudan, al-Ind and Maran in Saada province,” it said, saying rebels were forcing locals to fight with rebel forces. It said 300 tonnes of aid, including food, blankets and medicines was heading from Sanaa to help the displaced. Aid groups have complained of poor access to the war zone. More than 100,000 people, many of them children, have fled their homes during the recent surge in fighting, a U.N. agency said this month. [ID:nN2184004] There was no comment from the rebels, lead by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, and there has been no way of independently confirming conflicting claims from each side over the fighting since the government has closed the region to media. The government has said it killed this month three people described as leaders among the rebels. Yemeni forces have used air strikes, tanks and artillery in an offensive described by officials as an attempt to crush the revolt which first began in 2004. Officials say Shi’ite Zaydi rebels want to restore a Shi’ite state overthrown in the 1960s. The Shi’ite Zaydi sect rebels want Zaydi schools in their area, they oppose the spread of Saudi-influenced Sunni fundamentalism and they say they are defending their villages against government oppression. The government says they have backing from Iran, while the rebels say Saudi Arabia is helping the government. (Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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