x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Yemeni Shiite, Sunni fighters agree to ceasefire

Fighting in northern Yemen between Shiite Houthis and Sunni Salafis stops as government-mediated ceasefire takes effect.

Defendants stand behind bars as the state security court begins the trial of suspects charged in the attempt to assassinate President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Sanaa. Mohamed Al Sayaghi / Reuters
Defendants stand behind bars as the state security court begins the trial of suspects charged in the attempt to assassinate President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Sanaa. Mohamed Al Sayaghi / Reuters

SANAA // Fighting in northern Yemen between Shiite Houthis and Sunni Salafis stopped on Sunday as a government-mediated ceasefire took effect.

Clashes have killed at least 100 people since they broke out on October 30 when Houthi fighters, who control much of Saada province on the border with Saudi Arabia, accused their Salafist rivals in the town of Damaj of recruiting thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them.

The Salafis said the foreigners were students seeking to deepen their knowledge of Islam.

“The confrontations have ended in Saada and the ceasefire took effect half an hour ago,” Yehia Abuesbaa, the head of a presidential committee tasked with ending the fighting, said from Damaj.

Sectarian rivalry in Damaj has cast a shadow over reconciliation efforts in Yemen, home to one of Al Qaeda’s most active wings.

An attempt to broker a ceasefire last week collapsed less than a day after it was declared, but the lull in fighting enabled Red Cross officials to retrieve almost 70 people from Damaj.

* Reuters