Bodies pile up as Huthis push towards Yemen capital
SANAA - Six Shiite rebels and two soldiers were killed near Sanaa on Thursday as Huthis continue to push south towards the Yemeni capital, tribal and security sources said.
Eight of the Huthi rebels, also known as Ansarullah (Partisans of God), were wounded in the fighting in Qaratel, a mountainous area 20 kilometres (12 miles) northwest of Sanaa, the sources said.
The firefight followed a rebel ambush, and came after days of bloody clashes between Ansarullah and tribesmen backing the influential Sunni Al-Islah (reform) party in which at least 22 people have reportedly been killed since the weekend.
Last month, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and the main parties agreed to transform the unrest-riven country into a six-region federation as part of a political transition.
The rebels, who complain that Yemen would be divided into rich and poor regions under the plan, have been trying to enlarge their zone of influence by pushing out from the mountains to areas closer to Sanaa.
In early February, the rebels seized parts of the northern province of Omran in clashes that left more than 150 people dead.
They also overran the home base of the Al-Ahmar clan which is highly influential within Al-Islah and which heads the powerful Hashid tribal confederation.