Scores killed in renewed clashes between Yemen army, followers of anti-American cleric
The Yemeni military launched a major offensive to quash a rebellion in the northern mountains, and some 50 troops and fighters have been killed in the two days of clashes, tribal leaders and government officials said Thursday.
The army has deployed more than 2,000 soldiers, along with tanks, helicopters, artillery and fighter jets, against the supporters of an anti-American cleric, Hussein Badr Eddin al-Houti.
Witnesses told AFP that the army crossed Al-Sharaf mountain before advancing half-way across Al-Hikmi mountain, the highest peak in the Maran area and a key stronghold of Huthi and his supporters.
Tension between the government and al-Houti erupted into armed conflict late June when security forces tried to arrest his supporters in Sa'dah. Last month, President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered military operations suspended to give mediation a chance, but the fighting continued.
Tribal sources said Thursday about 50 people had been killed and dozens wounded since the offensive began on Tuesday night. Most of the casualties were soldiers.
The Yemeni government has offered a reward of $55,000 for al-Houti's capture. It accuses him of sedition, attacking government buildings and security forces, forming an illegal armed group and inciting people not to pay taxes.
His group is also said to encourage anti-American sentiment through mosque speeches and demonstrations. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)