Sana’a: Salafists in Yemen have rejected Al Qaida’s pledge to assist them in their fighting with Al Houthi rebels in the northern province of Saada.

Al Qaida announced last week that it would take revenge against Shiite Al Houthi rebels for their assault on their Sunni counterparts.

“This is a conspiracy against us. [Al] Houthis want to prove that we are akin to Al Qaida,” Surur Al Wadi’i, Salafist spokesman, told Gulf News by telephone.

“We are ideologically different from Al Qaida. We oppose Al Qaida’s killing of Muslims and their armed revolt against Muslim leaders.”

Sectarian violence began when Al Houthi rebels lay siege to a religious school in Damaj village.

The Al Houthis said that the blockade was aimed at forcing out foreign fighters from the village. They claimed that the Dar Al Hadith school in the village has turned into a recruiting point for foreigner Jihadists.

Salafists responded by saying that foreign students have been studying in the school for ages under the watchful eyes of the government.

Al Wadi’i said that the ongoing clashes claimed the lives of 110 of their supporters. Al Houthis refuse to give the number of dead from their side.

A local source said that pro-Salafist tribesmen retaliated to the Al Houthi blockade on Damaj by laying siege to the Al Houthi-controlled province. Those tribesmen cut off the main road from the capital that passes through Amran province.

A local journalist from Saada, who preferred to be anonymous, told Gulf News that when Al Houthi rebels turned to the road that connects Saada with the province of Hajja, hundreds of pro-Salafist men blocked it.

The journalist said: “[Al] Houthi fighters are trying as hard as they can to break the siege.”

The government, that appeared to be on the fence on the issue, has unsuccessfully sponsored many initiatives to stop the fighting.