2nd LD: 12 killed by Shiite rebels in sectarian clashes in northern Yemen

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At least 12 people were killed and dozens of others injured in sectarian clashes with Shiite al- Houthi militants on Friday in Yemen's northern province of Saada, a tribal leader told Xinhua.

The al-Houthi fighters attacked a tribal area of Salafi Sunnis after giving them a deadline to leave their houses, the tribal leader said anonymously, adding that the fighters accused the Sunnis of insulting Shiite ideology.

"The dead included two women and three children," he added.

Local residents said that the Shiite rebels used heavy weapons in the attack against the Sunni-dominated district and destroyed several houses.

It is the second attack in less than 24 hours after the Houthis killed five Sunnis in an ambush on a road leading Dammaj town in Saada, according to local official sources.

There have been frequent conflicts between Sunnis and the Shiite Houthi rebels in the Yemeni northern regions these years.

Saada, bordering top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is the stronghold of the Shiite rebels, who have been controlling most of the province since they signed a cease-fire deal with the Yemeni government in August 2010 that ended an on-and-off war since 2004.

The Shiite then got involved in sectarian clashes with local armed Sunni tribesmen, forcing thousands of Sunni residents to flee the conflict.

The well-armed Houthis have agreed to join a UN-sponsored Yemeni national reconciliation dialogue which began in March and was scheduled to run for six months. Endi

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