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Yemen clashes between Shiite rebels and tribesmen kill 22 — sources

By Reuters - Sep 16,2014 - Last updated at Sep 16,2014

SANAA — Twenty-two people were killed in fighting between Shiite Muslim rebels and government-allied tribesmen in northern Yemen on Monday and Tuesday, tribal and local sources told Reuters.

The fighting in Al Jawf province, northeast of the capital Sanaa, is further destabilising a country struggling to overcome a range of threats including a secessionist movement in its south and the spread of an Al Qaeda insurgency.

The stability of Yemen is a priority for the United States and its Arab Gulf allies because of its strategic position next to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and shipping lanes which run through the Gulf of Aden.

An upsurge in the fighting between the Houthi Shiite gunmen and Sunni tribesmen this month followed weeks of anti-government demonstrations by Houthi activists in Sanaa.

The Houthis, who follow the small Zaidi branch of Shiite Islam, have been embroiled in a decade-old conflict with the central government in Sunni-dominated Sanaa, fighting for more territory and control in the north.

The Houthi protesters say they are taking a stand against government corruption in the poor southern Arabian country. Critics say the Houthis are trying to grab power and carve out a semi-independent state for themselves in the north — something they deny.

The sources told Reuters the dead included 15 Houthi fighters, while the Houthis killed two sons of a tribal leader in addition to five other people.

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