The head of Yemen’s Shiat Houthi militia threatened Saturday to take control of the oil-rich Marib province, targeted by the group since it seized the capital and central areas three months ago.
“If official authorities do not assume their responsibilities, (we) will act to support the honourable people of Marib,” Abdelmalek al-Huthi said in a televised address to supporters in Sanaa.
The Houthis, also known as Ansarullah, overran Sana’a unopposed in September and have since advanced into the different areas of the country. They have been met with fierce resistance by Al-Qaeda and tribal fighters.
Houthi accused “certain” tribesmen of wanting to hand over Marib to “Al-Qaeda and the take firist,” a reference to the Islamist Al-Islah movement that has fought alongside Al-Qaeda’s Yemen franchise against the Shiite group.
On Thursday, tribesmen ambushed a military convoy travelling between Marib and Sana’a and seized heavy weapons they claimed were destined for the Houthis, tribal sources and witnesses said.
Three soldiers died during ensuing clashes, according to Yemen’s High Security Commission, which demanded late Friday that the tribesmen return the seized equipment.
On Thursday, almost 50 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a religious celebration by Huthi supporters in the mainly Sunni city of Ibb.
In neighboring Shabwa province, one soldier was killed and another wounded when suspected Al-Qaeda militants ambushed their vehicle, a military source said.