Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Clashes between government troops and Shi’ite Houthi tribesmen in the northern province of Amran escalated on Thursday, as Sana’a announced the implementation of a three-month security plan to end the armed confrontations in the region and return government control to the province.
Yemeni authorities reported that shots were fired on Thursday between security officers and fighters belonging to the Zaydi Shi’ite Houthi Movement after they attacked a security checkpoint at the entrance to the city of Amran, in northern Yemen, killing an unspecified number of soldiers. The violence comes one day after three soldiers were reported killed in clashes with Houthi rebels who had sought to set up military checkpoints of their own on roads coming in to the province.
The latest clashes between the Yemeni military and Houthi Movement fighters take place against the backdrop of a fragile temporary government-backed truce between the Shi’ite group and local Sunni tribesman. This conflict, which had raged for months across a number of Yemeni provinces, has had significant humanitarian repercussions, displacing a significant number of people from the province.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Johannes Van Der Klaauw on Thursday called on the parties to this conflict to avoid further escalation of the conflict and allow humanitarian access to the province.
He said: “Humanitarian partners in Yemen have scaled up their presence and response to the needs of displaced people who have been affected by recent violence in Amran.”
“Should current tensions in Amran escalate into violence, humanitarian partners will not be able to deliver much needed assistance, particularly to Amran City.”
Van Der Klaauw hailed government efforts to mediate between the Sunni tribesmen and the Houthis, saying that “it is important that the truce is maintained so that humanitarian partners can reach all those in need. I urge parties to the conflict to fully observe their duty to protect civilians and to provide unfettered access for humanitarian actors to civilian populations in need.”
Yemen’s humanitarian partners have delivered food and non-food assistance to approximately 13,500 newly displaced people from Amran Province—11,354 of them in the city of Amran and 2,128 in Sana’a.
In related news, two Saudi border guards were reported killed on Thursday after being fired on from inside Yemeni territory. Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said that Riyadh and Sana’a are working together to investigate the incident.