At least 30 Shia Houthi fighters have been killed while battling Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to wrest control of Radaa, a city in the central Bayda province.

The battle has been ongoing over the last two days and Houthis are now moving into areas north of the capital, Sanaa.

Witnesses say the Houthis used tanks and were armed with heavy weapons as they entered villages on the outskirts of Arhab district.

The Houthis have been expanding their territory in western and central Yemen, since taking the capital Sanaa in September, pledging to relinquish control of the city after the government gained control over AQAP.

In another development, Yemeni troops killed five al-Qaeda suspects disguised as women who fired at a soldier during a checkpoint inspection of their Saudi-bound bus, officials said on Saturday.

Another suspect was wounded along with the driver in the shooting at Harad, a town 15km from the Saudi border, the officials said, adding that two of those killed were Saudis.

"As one of the soldiers climbed on board the bus for an inspection, one of the suspects opened fire and wounded him, prompting shooting from other soldiers at the checkpoint," according to a government official who gave the casualty toll.

All six had been dressed in black robes and wore the niqab, a face-covering veil commonly worn by women in Yemen, the official in Harad told the AFP news agency.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies