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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Yemen forces 'kill 46 militants'
Yemeni soldiers
Yemeni troops were also reported killed in the operation
Yemeni authorities say they have killed 46 supporters of a dissident Muslim cleric in the north of the country.

An interior ministry statement quoted by the Saba state news agency said the raid targeted anti-government preacher Hussein al-Houthi and his supporters.

Soldiers backed by helicopters laid siege to several guerrilla targets in Saada, 240km (150 miles) north of the capital, Sanaa, the agency reported.

Yemen has accused the Shia cleric of sedition and anti-American extremism.

At least 12 government soldiers are also reported to have died in the operation against the rebels, which the ministry said started four days ago when police attempted to arrest the cleric.

Since then, at least 35 rebels had been wounded and 43 had been arrested, according to the government.

Crackdown

Officials said a large cache of automatic rifles, grenade-launchers and land mines had been recovered from the homes of Mr Houthi's supporters.

Security sources quoted by the Reuters news agency say Mr Houthi, who belongs to the Zaidi sect of Yemen's Shia Muslim minority, heads a rebel group which has taken part in violent protests against the US and Israel.

Yemen's government recently launched a crackdown against suspected extremists linked to al-Qaeda.

It has not claimed Mr Houthi's rebels are linked to the group.




SEE ALSO:
Yemen bans 'false report' writer
13 Apr 04  |  Middle East
Yemen's new anti-terror strategy
16 Dec 03  |  Middle East
Yemen arrests 'al-Qaeda members'
04 Mar 04  |  Middle East
Country profile: Yemen
29 May 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Yemen
26 Apr 04  |  Country profiles


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