Ceasefire is agreed in Yemen after 60 die in fighting

Road linking restive Sa'ada province with capital will be reopened.

SANA'A // Tribal mediators succeeded yesterday in brokering a ceasefire between al Houthi rebels and a tribe backed by the government after days of heavy fighting in the north killed more than 60 people. Mohammed Abdulsalam, a Houthi spokesman, said the ceasefire was reached after the mediation of tribal chieftains. "The ceasefire is stable and the mediation committee is in the region, but we need a mediator who has the ability to exercise pressure and monitor the ceasefire on the ground," Mr Abdulsalam said. He did not have details on the agreement.

He said the truce had been in effect since midday yesterday and that the road linking the restive Sa'ada province with the capital through Amran would be reopened. The road had been blocked by the two sides for about a week. Clashes between the Houthis, security soldiers and al Aziz, a government-backed tribe, on Friday left more than 15 dead following a short truce on Thursday. Among the dead was the nephew of Sagheer bin Aziz, a tribal chief and a member of parliament. He died after al Houthis bombed his house, according to local sources.

"We are not fighting tribes; [the government] just wanted to give a tribal dimension for the fight and this, of course, will not serve the country but would lead to catastrophe. Bin Aziz is a military leader and has military camps. It is the army which is shelling our people, using tanks and rockets," Mr Abdulsalam said. He said the recent fighting was focused on unpopulated areas around military camps in al Labada and al Zalaa, located in al Amashiah region in Harf Sufian, 100km north of the capital, Sana'a.

The fighting left more than 60 people dead and dozens wounded. It marked the deadliest fighting in the region since a ceasefire in February that ended a round of clashes between the rebels and the army, which started in 2004. malqadhi@thenational.ae