Yemeni Shiite supporters of the Huthi movement chant slogans before dismantling part of their protest camp in Sanaa. Already in control of Sanaa and the strategic port city of Hudeida, the Shiite rebels appeared to have taken control, unopposed, of the Dhamar and Ibb provinces, security officials said. Image Credit: AFP

Sana’a: Al Houthi fighters and supporters of the Islah clashed in central Yemen on Saturday, residents and local officials said, another sign of sectarian warfare in the violence-prone country that borders Saudi Arabia.

Saturday’s fighting in the town of Yareem in Ibb province came after 15 people were killed in fighting on Friday between Sunni tribesmen and Al Houthi rebels on the outskirts and in the city of Ibb, 150 km (90 miles) south of Sana’a.

Houthi fighters were attacking the home of an Islah official, Ali Bdeir, in Yareem, residents said. The attack came after the Houthis were ambushed at dawn in Yareem, and four Houthis were killed.

“There are heavy clashes now between the Al Houthi fighters and the supporters of Islah. It’s a very scary situation,” a local Ibb official told Reuters.

In Sana’a, dozens of armed Al Houthi demonstrators protested in front of the Saudi embassy on Saturday, calling for the release of a prominent Shiite cleric who was sentenced to death by a Saudi court this week, a Reuters witness said.

The Al Houthi demonstrators, who were carrying AK-47 rifles, also chanted “Death to America, Death to Israel” slogans. Yemeni security and military forces blocked both sides of the street in front of the embassy and watched the demonstration. A Saudi judge on Wednesday sentenced to death Shaikh Nimr Al Nimr, who had called for greater rights for Shiites in Saudi Arabia.