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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
Yemen army 'crushes' rebellion
Yemeni troops engaged in the fight against Houthi's rebels
Yemeni troops say they have seized rebel strongholds
The Yemeni government has ended an offensive that lasted more than a month against a rebel cleric in the north of the country, say officials.

Security officials said they had seized the last stronghold of Sheikh Hussein al-Houthi, head of the Shia Zeidi sect.

More than 200 troops and rebels have been killed in fighting over several weeks in the mountainous Maran area.

The army is now carrying out house-to-house searches to find the cleric and his followers.

Sheikh al-Houthi is accused of setting up unlicensed religious centres and of forming an armed group which staged violent protests against the US and Israel.

Fighting broke out between rebel forces and government troops in mid-June.

Correspondents said at the time that the cleric, who served as an MP in Yemen's parliament from 1993 to 1997, enjoyed the support of up to 3,000 armed rebels.

At least 40 people were killed in renewed fighting this week after a new mediation effort failed, officials said.


Yemen's Army Chief of Staff Brig Gen Mohammad al-Qassimi said on Friday that the resistance had been all but overcome.

"I can assure you it will be crushed within 12 hours," he told reporters in the main north-western city of Saada.

"Army forces have entered all areas in the Maran mountains and there are now only a few pockets of limited resistance in some villages there."

Zeidis are a moderate Shia group living mainly in north-west Yemen.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh said in July Mr Houthi's group had attacked mosques and urged Yemenis to arm themselves against possible attacks by the US.

The cleric had also previously said in his lectures that democracy would bring a Jewish leader to power in Yemen.

President Saleh called on Mr Houthi to turn himself in, promising him a fair trial.

Since the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US, impoverished Yemen has launched a major crackdown against al-Qaeda sympathisers among the country's Sunni majority.

Mr Houthi has not been accused of links to al-Qaeda.

But anti-US and anti-Israeli sentiment is high all over Yemen because of the occupation of Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Country profile: Yemen
29 May 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Yemen
26 Apr 04  |  Country profiles

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