Ceasefire holds between Shi'ite and Sunni fighters in north Yemen

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 11, 2014 10:42 AM
Ceasefire holds between Shi'ite and Sunni fighters in north Yemen

SANAA (Reuters) - Fighting in north Yemen between Shi'ite Muslim Houthis and Sunni Muslim Salafis stopped on Saturday as a ceasefire deal took effect, according to a government committee working towards ending the conflict.

More than 100 people have been killed since fighting erupted on October 30 when Houthis, holding much of Saada province on the Saudi Arabia border, accused Salafis in the town of Damaj of recruiting thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them.

The Salafis say the foreigners are students seeking to deepen their knowledge of Islam.

Previous ceasefires struck since the conflict did not stick. But the government is optimistic the latest one will stick because it includes all factions involved in the fighting in Saada and adjacent provinces, said Yehia Abuesbaa, head of the presidential committee tasked with ending the fighting.

The Yemeni army started to deploy troops to oversee the ceasefire in neighboring governorates on Friday evening and entered Damaj on Saturday, he said.

The lull in the fighting has enabled the Red Cross to evacuate 25 wounded people from Damaj.

The Houthi-Salafi conflict has compounded the challenges bedeviling U.S.-allied Yemen, also grappling with a separatist movement in the south and an insurgency by Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Mark Heinrich)