Middle East
Dozens die in Yemeni clashes
At least 30 Houthi fighters killed in renewed fighting in northern city of Saada.
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2009 12:31 GMT

The rebellion in Yemen has been raging since 2004 [EPA]

At least 30 rebel Houthi fighters have been killed in renewed clashes in the  northern Yemeni city of Saada.

Four Yemeni soldiers were also killed in Sunday's fighting, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Yemen quoted security sources as saying.

The Houthi rebels are concentrated mainly in the Saada and Amran provinces and form a group from within the Zaidi Shia majority north.

Five weeks of fighting have led to a humanitarian crisis affecting tens of thousands of civilians who have been forced to flee their homes.

The United Nations has estimated that about 150,000 people have been displaced by instability in Saada province since sporadic fighting broke out in 2004.

Conflict origins

The Saada province rebellion began in June 2004 when Husain al-Houthi founded an organisation called Shabab al-Mumineen, the Believing Youth movement, and announced an uprising against the Yemeni government.

The imam said his vision was to establish Zaydi sharia law to defend his community against discrimination, rather than the constitution brought by the republicans once the Zaydi Imamate was defeated.

Yahya al-Houthi continued the insurgency soon after his brother Husain's death in June 2005.

The movement has at times offered to end its struggle, in a region where access to health, education and electricity is extremely limited.

In a letter sent to Sanaa in 2006 it asked emissaries be sent to discuss terms. "But if injustice continues with killing, destroying, and imprisonment... then the trouble will not be solved, but will become more complicated and the gap will become even wider," the message warned.

No negotiations have ever taken place, and the capital has continued to attack the rebel movement every summer since 2007.

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