x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

At least 25 killed in Yemen as Shiite rebels clash with Salafis

Shelling killed 10 people on Saturday and continued on Sunday afternoon, said a Salafi spokesman.

SANAA // At least 25 people have been killed in northern Yemen after Shiite Muslim rebels attacked Sunni Islamist Salafi fighters.

Shelling killed 10 people on Saturday and continued yesterday afternoon, said a Salafi spokesman.

The death toll now stands at 25, with a further 48 wounded in the latest flare-up in Damaj, about 150 kilometres north of Sanaa.

The conflict in the north, where government troops tried to crush Shiite Houthi rebels before a ceasefire last year, is one of several plaguing the country.

Medical sources and activists in Taiz said one person was killed when government forces fired artillery rounds at tribesmen in the city's Al Hasab district.

Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, agreed to step down last week after 10 months of protests to end his 33-year rule.

He returned to the country late on Saturday from Saudi Arabia, where he signed the GCC-brokered deal that aims to ease him from power.

State television yesterday broadcast footage of him addressing a group of political allies and saying protests against him should end.

"The country can't take more of what it's been through over the last 10 months," he said. Mr Saleh issued a general pardon to all people involved in the 10-month uprising, except those involved in criminal acts and the attack on the presidential compound on June 3.

Opposition parties critised the move as "null and void" because he no longer has any presidential powers.

"This is an infringement to the [GCC] agreement," said Hooriah Mashoor, spokesman for the National Council for the Peaceful Revolution Forces, an umbrella for opposition groups.

Mr Saleh's opponents have criticised his public interventions since signing the deal, which leaves him with his title for now, as signs he may try to subvert the transfer plan, which he has backed out of three times.

The deputy to whom Mr Saleh transferred power, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, on Saturday set February 21 as the date for the presidential election.

Opposition parties have picked a former foreign minister to form a new government.

Yemen's neighbours, along with Washington and the UN, which echoed a Gulf power transfer plan in a Security Council resolution, hope a political process can halt a slide toward civil war.

* With additional reporting by Mohammed Al Qadhi