Yemen rebels say Saudi troops fired on border town

Source: Reuters

SANAA, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Shi’ite rebels in Yemen accused Saudi forces on Monday of firing into a northern border town in support of the Yemeni government’s offensive against them. “The Saudi forces near the Hasama border region hit the Hasama market with heavy machinegun fire while the market was full of people,” the rebels, known as Houthis after their clan leaders, said in a statement. A security official denied that Saudi forces had fired on Hasama and said Saudi Arabia had no role in the war. The insurgents, who say they are fighting political, economic and religious marginalisation, have often accused neighbouring Sunni power Saudi Arabia of fighting on the side of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. “This reveals the increasing Saudi interference in Yemen’s internal affairs,” it said. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, and the United States fear the conflict in Yemen’s northern provinces and a separatist movement in the south will enable al Qaeda to establish a stronger foothold in the Arabian Peninsula state. In an interview with Saudi-owned MBC television aired on Sunday, Saleh said Saudi Arabia backed Yemeni unity but did not interfere. He vowed to crush the rebels, who he said last week would be defeated within days, and accused al Qaeda, a Sunni group, of backing the Houthis. “From the reports we have, they back each other. The Houthis support al Qaeda and al Qaeda support the Houthis,” he said. Yemeni and Saudi al Qaeda militants said this year they had joined forces. Militants using the al Qaeda name have carried out attacks on government and foreign targets in Yemen since 2007. The government accuses Iran of backing the rebels. Iran and the Shi’ite group Hezbollah in Lebanon have called on Saleh to end the fighting through talks. The army launched Operation Scorched Earth to crush the rebels in August. About 85 people were killed in an army raid on an improvised refugee camp last month. Aid groups say about 250,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, which broke out in 2004. (Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari; Writing by Andrew Hammond; editing by Andrew Dobbie))
spotted by RS

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