SANAA, (Reuters) – A Yemeni court sentenced three more rebels from a Shi’ite Muslim sect to death on Tuesday after convicting them of causing deaths in clashes with the army in 2008.
The state security court also jailed six other rebels, accused of seeking to install Shi’ite Islamic rule, to jail terms of 5-15 years for taking part in the clashes.
Hundreds of people have died and thousands have fled their homes in battles between government forces and the rebels in the north which have raged on and off since 2004.
On Monday, the same court sentenced seven rebels to death and jailed five rebels for up to 15 years.
In July 2008, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said the battles with the rebels, known as the Houthis, had ended and that dialogue should replace fighting. The rebels belong to the Shi’ite Zaydi sect and are led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.
Officials say the rebels want to restore a form of clerical rule prevalent until the 1960s in Yemen, which borders the world’s biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia.
The rebels, who want Zaydi schools and oppose the government’s alliance with the United States, say they are defending their villages against government oppression.
Sunni Muslims form a majority of Yemen’s 19 million population, while most of the rest are Shi’ite Zaydis.
One of the poorest countries outside Africa, Yemen is also grappling with a violent campaign by al Qaeda militants, dwindling oil and water resources, unemployment, corruption and a growing community of Somali refugees.