Yemen says kills 20 rebels, heavy bombing in north

Source: Reuters

(Adds ambush, details) SANAA, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Yemen’s government said on Monday it had killed at least 20 rebels and lost seven of its own men in the latest fighting in north Yemen where Shi’ite Zaydi Muslims oppose central government control. “The air hawks succeeded in directing painful blows to the elements of terrorism,” a statement quoted a military source as saying, referring to several districts in Saada province. The statement said 20 people died, including five leaders among the rebels of the Zaydi sect, in clashes. The government says the ordinary residents of Saada do not support the uprising against central authority, which began in 2004. The rebels, referred to as Houthis after the clan of their leaders, acknowledged the air bombardment. “Bombing intensified on the city of Dahyan causing huge damage to the houses of citizens, commercial enterprises and public and private property,” a statement said. A military statement said later on Monday a general, Saleh al-Malwi, and six others were killed in a rebel ambush in Harf Sufyan, an area where the government has issued several statements citing army advances. President Ali Abdullah Saleh said last week the rebels were receiving funding from groups in Iran as well as from Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the foreign minister said the government would not back down from its ceasefire conditions. The government in Sanaa says the rebels want to restore a Shi’ite state that fell in the 1960s. The Houthis say they want autonomy and oppose the rule of veteran leader Saleh. A statement from a rebel figure named Yahya al-Houthi accused Saleh’s government of tyranny, corruption and escalating the conflict with the military operation it launched in early August to quash the insurgency. “You will only create more camps of displaced people through this unjust internal war you insist on, camps which Yemen only ever had under your watch as president,” he said, addressing the Western and Saudi-backed Saleh. “The lives, health, education and wealth of the Yemeni people have paid for your greed and determination to stay in power.” U.N. aid agencies say more than 100,000 people have fled their homes during the surge in fighting. They launched an appeal in Geneva last month for $23.5 million to help Yemen. Thousands are thought to be staying in tented camps. Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, also faces rising secessionist sentiment in the south and a new al Qaeda campaign that has staged deadly attacks over the past three years. (Reporting by Mohammed al-Ghobari, writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
spotted by RS

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