Thousands protest in Yemen over Houthi killings
Around 100 Houthi fighters are believed to have been killed in clashes with government soldiers (File/AFP)
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Tens of thousands of Yemeni people have staged a protest on the streets of the capital, Sana'a, to condemn the army for attacking and killing Shia Houthi fighters.
The development comes after Yemeni warplanes carried out airstrikes on positions held by Houthi fighters in the northern province of Amran.
Army forces clashed with fighters, killing around 100 of them. About 20 soldiers died in the attack as well.
Following the conflict, Yemeni armed forces and Houthi fighters reached a ceasefire deal backed by the United Nations on Wednesday.
The deal was made to end violence in Amran, including an end to military reinforcements, deployment of military monitors, and opening of the main road to Sana’a.
Takfiri elements from Islah (Reform) party have been backing the army in its fight against Houthis.
In February, Houthi fighters seized areas of Amran in fighting with Salafi tribesmen.
Yemen’s Houthi movement, which draws its name from the tribe of its founding leader, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, has been fighting against the central government for years.
The Shia fighters blame the government for political, economic, and religious marginalization of the country’s Shia community and violating their civil rights.
In February, the Yemeni government agreed to transform the impoverished Arab state into a federation as part of a political transition. This would create four regions in the north and two in the south.
But the government’s plan was flatly rejected by both the separatists in the south and the Houthi fighters, who argue that the initiative would divide Yemen into rich and poor regions.
The Houthi movement also played a key role in the popular revolution that forced former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in February 2012.