SANA'A // Following a short ceasefire mediated by tribal chiefs, army-backed tribes and the Houthi rebels resumed fighting yesterday evening in north Yemen. A tribal leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the confrontation resumed because the two sides have no confidence in each other and that the mediators, composed of tribal chieftains from Mareb province, did not have a clear vision of how to implement a sustainable truce.
"In addition, the several hours ceasefire was just a rest for both sides after four days of brutal battle," the tribal leader said. Clashes between the Houthis and soldiers and al Aziz, a government-backed tribe, during the past five days have left more than 50 people dead and dozens wounded and marked the deadliest fighting in the region since a ceasefire in February. The north of the country, mainly Sa'ada, has endured six rounds of fighting since an on-and-off war erupted in 2004. Thousands have been killed and wounded in the fighting and about 250,000 displaced, according to the United Nations.
Also yesterday three protestors were wounded in the southern province of Abyan when police opened fire to disperse hundreds of supporters of the Southern Movement, which is demanding the separation of southern Yemen from the north. Southern Movement activists staged the protest after Friday prayers to commemorate a bloody confrontation with police on July 23, 2009 in which 23 people from both sides were killed.
In another development, al Qa'eda yesterday claimed responsibility for twin attacks on security and intelligence headquarters in the southern Yemen town of Zinjibar on July 14 in which three people were killed. Yemen's branch of al Qa'eda, known as al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula, said in a statement posted on Islamist websites that "dozens were killed and wounded" in the attack. It also said one of its fighters was killed and two wounded in the raid.
Yemen security officials had put the toll at three policemen killed and 11 wounded while two gunmen were also killed and one wounded in the attack. Al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula in its statement vowed to continue its fight in Yemen until the fall of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government. It said efforts by "treacherous Arab leaders" and "American tyrants" to keep Mr Saleh in power would fail.
"This corrupt, unjust and weak regime is about to fall. And the mujahedeen will continue their attacks until they achieve victory," the statement said Yesterday's statement comes one day after suspected al Qa'eda gunmen ambushed a Yemeni army patrol in Shabwa, killing five soldiers and wounding another, according to security officials. Al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula had also claimed responsibility for a June 19 attack on the intelligence building in the port city of Aden that killed 11 people.