Dozens of Houthi rebels have been killed in central Yemen in a suspected revenge attack after at least 40 people from a rival tribe were kidnapped by the Shia group, sources told Al Jazeera.

At least 42 Houthis were killed by Sunni tribesman in Arhab on Sunday, a local source said.

The Houthis, who have been pushing for control of Arhab, an area some 30km northeast of Sanaa, have used heavy weaponry, including tanks and artillery to shell homes and neighbourhoods, in fighting that has left dozens dead.

The rebels were previously based in the northern highlands, where Yemen's Zaidi Shia minority is concentrated, but they have made significant advances in provinces south of Sanaa since seizing the capital in September.

Establishing themselves as Yemen's new powerbrokers, the Houthis have been expanding their territory in western and central Yemen, and have been accused of trying to settle old scores as they wage battles with opposing tribes.

Source: Al Jazeera