SANAA, YEMEN (AP) – Heavy clashes between Houthi rebel troops and Yemen’s pro-government forces have killed at least eight people, a security official confirmed on Friday.
The fresh round of violence comes amid heightened tensions following last week’s failure to extend a cease-fire between the warring sides.
The official said exchanges of fire broke out late on Thursday night in the contested western area of Yafa, killing four troops from either side and injuring five others. Local witnesses said both Houthi troops and forces under the Southern Transitional Council deployed machine guns and mortars during the clashes.
The failure to extend the nationwide truce last Sunday has threatened to reignite the civil war after a six-month cessation in frontline fighting. The Houthis blamed the dead-ended negotiations on the United Nations (UN) which has facilitated the cease-fire talks, while the United States (US) envoy to Yemen accused the rebel group of derailing the talks through last-minute demands.
As the deadline for a renewed agreement passed, both sides reportedly deployed reinforcements to the frontline cities of Marib and Taiz and exchanged gunfire in the western governorate of Al Dhalea. Neither of these reports post-cease-fire could be immediately confirmed by The Associated Press.
Houthi forces and the Southern Transitional Council sides have both blamed each other for sparking Thursday’s violence, officials said. Both the officials and the witnesses spoke with The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to brief the media.
The Southern Transitional Council is an umbrella group of heavily armed and well-financed militias propped up by the United Arab Emirates since 2015. The group, which controls most of southern Yemen, has repeatedly pushed to split the country into two like it was between 1967 and 1990.