Sana'a: Al Houthi rebel groups started their activity in 1982 with support from Iran, a senior Yemeni official has said.

"The satanic seed of Al Houthis started in 1982 during the Iraqi-Persian war, and over the period of 1983-1984 some cells were formed with Iranian support to carry out terrorist acts," Dr Rashid Al Alimi, Deputy Prime Minister for Defence and Security Affairs, told the parliament which called the government to take its responsibility in crushing the rebellion, on Wednesday.

The cells, Al Alimi said, carried out terror activities when the Saudi ambassador was in Sana'a, and they set fire to women in the street with acid substance, and they threw hand grenades at a cinema in the heart of Sana'a.

Cultural issue

The Sa'ada issue is cultural rather than a military and security issue, he said.

While fierce battles have been going on between Al Houthi rebels and government troops for more than a month in the northern province of Sa'ada, a security official said yesterday that they arrested seven men wanted for "terror and sabotage acts" in Sana'a and Mareb provinces.

Two Al Houthi supporters, who participated in the clashes with the troops in the northern outskirts of Sana'a over the last two weeks, were arrested in Mareb, the official said.

Two arrested

The two men, who were described as "among the most dangerous elements of Al Houthi rebellion and sabotage", were identified as Akeel Al Shami and Abdullah Samanan.

The two men had participated in the sabotage acts in Bani Hushaish and then they escaped to Mareb, the official said.

He also said that security men seized weapons, ammunition, and explosives from the house of an Al Qaida suspect.

"The security men found six hand grenades, some detonators, two rifles, one pistol, quantity of various ammunition, night binoculars, and some gloves, cassettes tapes and CDs," the Defence Ministry's 26 September weekly newspaper quoted unidentified official as saying.

The terror suspect was mentioned by the initials A.M.A.