x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Houthi rebels capture 200 Yemeni soldiers

Truce in north under greater pressure as fighting continues between government and Shia group.

SANA'A // Houthi rebels have captured 200 Yemeni soldiers in the country's north, further endangering a fragile truce, a military official said today. The official told AFP that the soldiers belong to regiment 72 of the army's republican guard. Yesterday, another military official told AFP that the Shia Houthi rebels had captured some 70 soldiers after they seized a strategic army post in al Zaala, a day after six soldiers were killed in fighting between the rebels and a government-backed tribe in the tense north.

Al Zaala, in Amran province, controls the road between Sana'a and Saada, the rebels' stronghold. The rebels' spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Salam ,declined to confirm the number of captured soldiers. He said: "It might be true that there are prisoners, but no information is available on either their number or their fate." At least 70 people were reportedly killed last week in clashes that have rattled an already fragile truce agreed in February that ended a six-month round of fighting in the conflict between the rebels and the army, which started in 2004.

The Houthis and the government have repeatedly exchanged accusations of violating the February ceasefire. * AFP