35 killed in sectarian clashes in N. Yemen

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At least 35 people were killed in fresh sectarian clashes over the past two days between Shiite rebels and Sunni fundamentalists in Yemen's northern restive province of Saada, a local councilman said on Thursday.

"A total of 30 Shiite rebels and five Sunni fundamentalist were killed over the past two days during sectarian clashes between the rival forces in war-torn district of Kutaf," the councilman told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

He said dozens of others from each side were wounded.

The Shiite rebels, also known as Houthis, who control most parts of Saada, signed a ceasefire deal with the Yemeni government in August 2010, putting an end to an on-and-off war since 2004.

However, the Shiite rebels have since involved in sectarian clashes with local Sunni tribesmen, which rocked the northern regions and forced thousands of local residents to flee the conflict to remote areas.

The tension has escalated after the central government's control is weakened by one-year protests against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, as the well-armed rebel group has been trying to take advantage of the security vacuum to expand their control over the country's northern regions.

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has promised to launch a national dialogue to settle disputes between all political factions.

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