At least 22 people are reported to have been killed in clashes in a province under rebel control in rugged northern Yemen. A source close to rebel group known as Houthis said on Thursday fighters from a Sunni group known as Salafis attacked the rebels overnight in Hajja and in the Kataf area of Saada province, an area that has seen intense sectarian fighting in recent months.
“We blocked the attack in under an hour and 13 people died in Hajja and nine in Kataf,” said the Houthi source.
The Houthis, who draw their name from a tribal leader, had fought government forces for years until an uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh last year gave them free rein in Saada province, which borders the world’s number one oil-exporter Saudi Arabia.
Political upheaval has severely weakened central government control over swathes of Yemen, allowing some groups to seize whole provinces including Saada.
“The whole governorate (Saada) is controlled by Houthis, we only have to deal with one party,” the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) head of operations for the Near and Middle East, Beatrice Megevand-Roggo, said in an interview.
A local official in Aden said Yemeni army colonel Sanad Badr Abdullah had survived an assassination attempt on Wednesday night in which his wife was injured. Witnesses said a bomb exploded as he got out of his car.