Dozens dead in hunt for Yemen cleric

Yemen has said that nine police officers and 46 followers of a Muslim cleric accused of inciting violence have been killed in clashes with security forces in the last five days.

    Yemen has vowed a crackdown on al-Huthi and his followers

    One source close to al-Huthi told Reuters news agency on Friday that the number of dead among the group was higher and put it at about 200.

    Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Fierce clashes between supporters of Shaikh Husain Badr al-Din al-Huthi and Yemeni soldiers have gripped the Murran district for the past five days, reported Aljazeera's correspondent Murad Hashim.

    Similar battles were reported in other areas but soldiers quickly restored security there.

    The official Saba news agency said the government had decided to send a delegation to the region to try to persuade Houthi to give himself up in order to stem the bloodshed.

    Forty-three supporters of al-Huthi have been arrested since clashes erupted on 20 June when police tried to arrest the cleric.

    Heavy army reinforcements have been deployed to Murran as soldiers tighten their hold on the area in an effort to force al-Huthi to surrender, reported Hashim.

    A large amount of arms and ammunition were seized, he added. An Interior Ministry statement also said that guns, rocket-propelled grenades and land mines were seized in al-Huthi's supporters hideouts.

    Allegations



    The statement did not mention any casualties among security
    forces, but a security source told Saba that two policemen were killed and five wounded in the clashes in Saada, 240 km north of the capital Sanaa. 

    Yemenis reject al-Huthi's stance,
    according to our correspondent

    A Yemeni security source vowed to continue pursuing al-Huthi and his supporters for allegedly inciting violence and spreading anti-US sentiments in Saada. 

    Security and military forces are still surrounding al-Huthi and a "small number of deviant elements", the ministry said. 

    Yemeni authorities believe al-Huthi, a leader of the Zaidi Shia sect in Saada, is also head of the dissident group 'The Believing Youth', which has led violent protests against the United States and Israel at mosques, security sources say. 

    Al-Huthi is also accused of attacks on the commander of the armed forces, government institutions, raiding mosques and attacking shaikhs to force them to preach anti-US sentiments, said Hasim.

    The cleric denies the allegations.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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