Yemen fighters accept ceasefire

Government may stop military action against Zaidi Shia group if it lays down arms.

    A number of fighters have been captured and imprisoned by the Yemeni government [EPA]

    Qatari mediation
     
    Yemeni officials said a Qatari delegation had mediated between the group and the government.
     
    The present conflict began in 2004 when Hussain Badr al-din al-Houthi led an armed uprising against the secular government of Abdullah Saleh.
     
    His fighters - followers of the Zaidi offshoot of Shia Islam that is unique to Yemen - hope to reinstall the Shia imamate that ruled the country for hundreds of years before being overthrown in 1962.
     
    Saada, the focus of the revolt and the scene of much of the recent fighting, has traditionally been the centre of Zaidism, which is followed by around 20 per cent of Yemen's population.
     
    Sunni Muslims are a majority of Yemen's 19 million population, while many of the rest are Zaidi Shias.
     
    'Neglected' region
     
    Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes in the the latest bout of conflict.
     
    In 2006, the government freed more than 600 of al-Houthi's followers in an amnesty, but in January fighting erupted again following attacks on the army.
     
    The fighters say their mountainous region, like many parts of Yemen, has been neglected.
     
    Western diplomats say they may want more autonomy.
     
    Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's head, has supported the US-led "war on terror".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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