Salafists-Zaidi clashes re-erupt in northern Yemen: Eight people killed

Violence rages in absence of government control

SANAA - Eight people were killed in renewed clashes between Shiite Zaidi rebels and Salafists in northern Yemen on Saturday, the second straight day of bloodshed, tribal sources.
"Today's clashes killed eight people and wounded several others on both sides," a tribal source said of the fighting since Friday in the town of Reda in Amran province.
An earlier tribal source had put Saturday's death toll at four Salafists, a day after another Salafist was reported killed.
Witnesses said Zaidi rebels shelled a mosque in Reda on Saturday morning and blew up a Koranic school.
Fighting still raged in the afternoon, they said.
The confrontations first broke out as Salafists and tribesmen tried to prevent a Zaidi protest against administrative appointments in their regions.
The two sides, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, brought in reinforcements and the situation was tense in the city, witnesses said.
Residents said tensions escalated after the appointment of supporters of the Islamist party Al-Islah to head Yemen's northern provinces, a move rejected by the Zaidis.
The clashes come ahead of a national dialogue scheduled for later this year as part of a political agreement that led to the February departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh following a year of unrest.
Zaidi rebels have indicated they would take part in the dialogue.
Dozens of people have been killed since last year in sectarian clashes between the rebels and Sunni Salafists trying to tighten their grip on northern Yemen, in the absence of government control.
Zaidis make up a minority in the Sunni-majority country.