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Army, Shia rebels clash as Yemen tensions run high

AFP , Wednesday 10 Sep 2014
Followers of the Shia Huthis group wave their weapons as they gather at the group's camp near Sanaa September 10, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Shia Huthi rebels clashed with Yemeni forces in a Sanaa suburb Wednesday as tensions ran high in the capital where they have set up protest camps, security sources and witnesses said.

A gunfight broke out in the Sabaha district, where Huthi protesters have been camping for weeks in a campaign to bring down the government and secure greater representation in state institutions.

On Tuesday, seven activists were shot dead as Huthi protesters attempted to storm government headquarters, while thousands blocked main thoroughfares in central Sanaa.

And troops in Hiziaz, a southern entrance to Sanaa, clashed with rebels who tried to drive a vehicle loaded with arms into the capital.

A civilian was killed and 15 others wounded in the confrontation, according to Yemen's top security commission, adding that several police and soldiers were also wounded.

It accused rebels of firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

The rebels have so far rejected overtures from President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who has offered to name a new prime minister and reduced a disputed fuel price hike.

Both concessions were core demands of the Huthis who launched their protests on August 18, after battling loyalist forces for months for control of key cities north of Sanaa.

Analysts say the rebels are trying to establish themselves as the top political force in the northern highlands, bordering Saudi Arabia, where Shias are the majority.

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