At least 26 people including sixteen children have been killed after two car bombs exploded in a town in central Yemen, sources told Al Jazeera.

One car bomb reportedly exploded near a checkpoint in Radaa, manned by Houthi rebels killing sixteen girls as a school bus was passing.

The second car exploded near the house of Abdallah Idriss, a senior Houthi leader killing 10 people.

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The Houthi-linked Almasirah TV channel, however, put the death toll at 30.

Despite no claim of responsibility for Tuesday's attack, the Houthis blamed al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who have previously threatened to launch fierce attacks against the movement.

In November, AQAP's military chief, Qassem al-Rimi, warned the Houthis to brace "for horrors that will make the hair of children turn white," after the Shia rebels expanded their presence into AQAP's stronghold of Radaa.

A mixed Sunni-Shia town, Radaa has seen heavy fighting since the Houthis took over parts of it in October, weeks after they stormed the capital Sanaa.

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

Establishing themselves as Yemen's new powerbrokers, the Houthis have been accused of trying to settle old scores as they wage battles with opposing tribes and AQAP fighters.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies