SANAA (Reuters) – Yemeni Shiite Houthi fighters and supporters of the Sunni party Islah clashed in central Yemen on Saturday, residents and local officials said, another sign of sectarian warfare in the violence-prone country that borders Saudi Arabia.
Saturday’s fighting in the town of Yareem in Ibb province came after 15 people were killed in fighting on Friday between Sunni tribesmen and Houthi rebels on the outskirts and in the city of Ibb, 150 km south of Sanaa.
Houthi fighters were attacking the home of an Islah official, Ali Bdeir, in Yareem, residents said. The attack came after the Houthis were ambushed at dawn in Yareem, and four Houthis were killed.
“There are heavy clashes now between the Houthi fighters and the supporters of Islah. It’s a very scary situation,” a local Ibb official told Reuters.
The Houthis established themselves as powerbrokers in Yemen last month, capturing the capital, Sanaa, on September 21. The weak administration of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi put up little resistance.
Clashes between Houthis, Sunni tribesmen and fighters from al-Qaeda, who regard the Houthis as heretics, have since intensified across several provinces in Yemen, alarming neighbouring oil-exporting giant Saudi Arabia.