[QODLink]
Middle East
Yemen releases Shia rebel prisoners
Government frees some 400 members of Houthi northern rebels as part of Qatar-mediated truce in return for concessions.
Last Modified: 30 Dec 2010 20:55 GMT
The prisoner release is part of a ceasefire between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels [EPA]

Yemen has released hundreds of Houthi rebel prisoners as part of a ceasefire in its long-running conflict with the northern Shia group.

Rebels and government officials said more than 400 Houthi detainees were released on Thursday as part of a truce mediated by the Gulf nation of Qatar.

Of those, 270 were set free in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and the rest in the northern city of Saada, the centre of the Houthi rebel movement, a security official said.

In return, officials said the rebels were expected to "surrender weaponry seized during the armed conflict" with the government.

In a statement on Thursday, the rebels said they had returned 10 military vehicles to authorities and had so far received 428 freed prisoners.

Fragile peace deal

The prisoner release comes just days after a Qatari delegation arrived in Yemen in an effort to consolidate a fragile peace deal reached in February 2010 between the Sanaa government and the rebels.

In depth

  Profile: Yemen's Houthi fighters
  Inside story: Yemen's future
  Riz Khan: Yemen, a failed state?
  Video: Yemen's tough al-Qaeda challenge
  In depth: Yemen's future

Qatar had previously brokered a short-lived ceasefire between the two sides in 2007 and a peace deal in 2008, but clashes soon broke out again.

The Houthis are members of the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam and follow the teachings of Bader Al-Deen Al-Houthi and his son, Hussein, the first leader of uprising who was killed in 2004.

The group has fought six wars with the government since 2004. They blame the central government for economic and religious discrimination. 

More than 250,000 people have been displaced by the war between the government and the Houthis.

Yemen has faced international pressure to quell its domestic conflicts, including an increasingly violent secessionist movement in the south, and to combat a resurgent al-Qaeda affiliate in the country.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Referendum on Scottish independence is the first major election in the UK where 16 and 17-year olds get a vote.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Farmers worry about their future as buyers shun local produce and rivers show an elevated presence of heavy metals.
War-torn neighbour is an uncertain haven for refugees fleeing Pakistan's Balochistan, where locals seek independence.
NSA whistleblower Snowden and journalist Greenwald accuse Wellington of mass spying on New Zealanders.
join our mailing list