SANAA (AFP) – Heavy clashes erupted between Yemeni troops and Shiite rebels in the rugged mountainous north on Sunday, military officials and witnesses said, two days after a short-lived truce collapsed.
Army tanks fired as armoured cars blocked the entrances to the narrow allies of the old city in Saada, stronghold of the Zaidi rebels seeking to end the current form of government, the officials said.
The rebels returned fire on the army from a hideout in a fortress overlooking the old town. Shops were closed and residents stayed indoors.
“They (the army and the rebels) clashed and the police halted all traffic. I was not able to get to work,” Abdel-Qader, a clerk, told AFP by telephone.
The fighting intensified on Saturday, leaving dozens of people dead or injured in the north of Yemen, according to military officials.
On Friday, the government said it would observe a ceasefire in response to requests from aid agencies to help ensure the safety of civilians and to an offer from the rebels to cooperate in that effort.
But fighting resumed only four hours after the truce was declared.
There is no official toll of casualties incurred since government forces launched operation “Scorched Earth” on August 11 against the rebels, who are loyal to leader Abdul-Malek al-Huthi and who the government alleges are supported by Iran.
Thousands have died and the United Nations estimates that around 150,000 have been displaced in intermittent fighting between the central government and rebels since 2004.