Increasing the death toll to around 270 people in less than a fortnight, military and tribal sources said on Sunday that some 50 rebels were also captured in the mountainous region since Friday.

Government forces are trying to track down followers of slain
rebel preacher Shaikh Husain Badr al-Din al-Huthi with whom they have been locked in combat in the northern Saada province since the end of March.
 
The fighting led US State Department to ramp up its travel advisory for Yemen, telling citizens it was concerned about possible attacks by militants.

It also authorised the voluntary departure of non-emergency staff at its embassy in the capital Sanaa.

Britain also cited risks in Yemen on Friday and suspended work at its embassy there "in the light of a current, credible threat to Western interests", the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Yemeni officials on Saturday played down US and British warnings of a possible attack by militants against their citizens or interests in the Arab state.

The Yemeni official said there was no link between the  warnings and the clashes in the Saada province.

Yemen's army killed the rebel al-Huthi who led a near three-month rebellion against the authorities from the mountainous north of the country in September 2004.

He had been hiding out with some supporters in a cave in Jarf Salman, a village in the region of Maran near the border with Saudi Arabia, and was killed during the culmination of three days of intense fighting.