SANAA (Reuters) - At least eight people were killed north of Yemen’s capital on Tuesday after Shi‘ite Muslim tribesmen fought with Sunni rivals and the army, local sources said.
There have been months of intense sectarian fighting since last year, threatening attempt at national reconciliation in Yemen, a neighbour of major oil exporter Saudi Arabia and home to one of al Qaeda’s most active wings.
The fighting on Tuesday was between Shi‘ite Houthis and Sunni tribesmen who back the Yemeni army. There were no details immediately available on the victims or the reasons for the fight in Omran province.
Violence last erupted there on Saturday, killing three, when a group of armed Houthi fighters marched to the provincial capital and demanded to hold a demonstration, but were refused entry by the army.
Fighters loyal to the Shi‘ite Houthi tribe, who have repeatedly fought government forces since 2004, are trying to tighten their grip on the north as Yemen moves towards a federal system that will give more power to regions.
Earlier this month at least 40 people were killed in clashes between Houthis and tribesmen near Sanaa.
Gulf Arab states and the United States are concerned about rising violence in the Western-allied country. Yemen has been in turmoil since a popular uprising ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, and is also struggling against southern secessionists and an economic crisis.
Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari, Writing by Sylvia Westall Editing by Jeremy Gaunt