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Yemeni army kills five Al-Qaeda suspects near Saudi border - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Yemeni protesters chant slogans during a protest against the continued presence of Shi'ite Houthi militias in Yemeni cities and towns, Sana'a, Yemen, December 13, 2014.  (EPA/YAHYA ARHAB)

Yemeni protesters chant slogans during a protest against the continued presence of Shi’ite Houthi militias in Yemeni cities and towns, Sana’a, Yemen, December 13, 2014. (EPA/YAHYA ARHAB)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Five suspected members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group were killed near the Yemeni-Saudi border on Saturday in a gun battle with Yemeni troops.

The shootout began when one suspect opened fire after a Yemeni soldier attempted to search the bus the suspects were travelling on in the city of Harad, 9 miles (15 kilometers) from the Saudi border.

Local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the bus, which was said to be on its way to Saudi Arabia, was carrying six male militants who had disguised themselves by donning the black robes and veils traditionally worn by Yemeni women.

During the clashes one Yemeni soldier and five of the militants—including two Saudis—were killed. The sixth militant was arrested, sources said.

“One of the suspects opened fire and injured a soldier who went to the vehicle to search it, as the soldiers on the checkpoint responded in kind,” one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Elsewhere in Yemen, tribal leaders in the Arhab district in northern Sana’a agreed to a ceasefire with fighters from the Houthi movement on Saturday.

The largely Shi’ite movement has been attempting to take control of more and more areas of Yemen since it occupied the capital Sana’a in September, sparking a month-long political crisis that ended when Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi agreed to form a new cabinet with Houthi members.

The Houthis’ advance has been contested in several districts by local groups suspicious of the movement’s intentions. Members of the Houthis have also been targeted by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is opposed to the movement for both political and sectarian reasons.

Saturday’s agreement was reportedly mediated by local tribes after the central government in Sana’a failed to respond to the Houthi violations, a source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The ceasefire came after at least seven people were killed and dozens injured in clashes on Friday between Houthis and local tribal militants opposed the presence of the Shi’ite group in Arhab, eyewitnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Anti-Hothi protests continued in Sana’a and other northern cities on Saturday. In the largest of these protests, some several thousand protestors marched towards the residence of President Hadi chanting slogans demanding the immediate withdrawal of Houthis from Sana’a and all state institutions.

The protest, which was organized by the Al-Islah Party and several student organizations, blamed Hadi and his government for Houthi expansion across the impoverished country.

Also in Yemen, a Twitter account affiliated with Ansar Al-Shari’a, a radical militant group with links to AQAP, said it had killed more than 70 Houthi militants in a series of attacks in the Rada’a district of the Al-Bayda governorate on Friday.

For the last few weeks, Rada’a has been at the center of violence between the Houthis and AQAP-linked militants who have been in control of the area for almost two years.