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Army, Shiite rebels clash as Yemen tensions run high

By AFP - Sep 10,2014 - Last updated at Sep 10,2014

SANAA — Shiite Houthi rebels clashed with Yemeni forces in a Sanaa suburb Wednesday as tensions ran high in the capital where they have set up protest camps, security sources and witnesses said.

A gunfight broke out in the Sabaha district, where Houthi protesters have been camping for weeks in a campaign to bring down the government and secure greater representation in state institutions.

On Tuesday, seven activists were shot dead as Houthi protesters attempted to storm government headquarters, while thousands blocked main thoroughfares in central Sanaa.

And troops in Hiziaz, a southern entrance to Sanaa, clashed with rebels who tried to drive a vehicle loaded with arms into the capital.

A civilian was killed and 15 others wounded in the confrontation, according to Yemen's top security commission, adding that several police and soldiers were also wounded.

It accused rebels of firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

The rebels have so far rejected overtures from President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has offered to name a new prime minister and reduced a disputed fuel price hike.

Both concessions were core demands of the Houthis who launched their protests on August 18, after battling loyalist forces for months for control of key cities north of Sanaa.

Analysts say the rebels are trying to establish themselves as the top political force in the northern highlands, bordering Saudi Arabia, where Shiites are the majority.

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