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Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Houthi Rebels open fire after Yemen peace deal

Yemeni troops pictured 12 Feburary 2010
The shooting started only hours after a ceasefire was announced

A gun battle has broken out between Yemeni rebels and government forces hours after a ceasefire was declared between the warring sides.

At least one soldier and a government official were killed in the attack in the Iqab district, in northern Yemen.

A senior military officer told journalists he had narrowly escaped being killed by the Houthi rebels.

The attack comes soon after a ceasefire deal was announced and Houthi fighters had begun dismantling roadblocks.

Fears

"I escaped an assassination attempt by the rebels who opened fire on my car," Gen Mohammed Abdullah al-Qussi told the news agency AFP.

The truce had officially begun only 12 hours before the attacks were reported.

Map

Interior Minister Mohammed al-Qawsi, whose car was shot at by rebels, told Reuters the truce was still intact because not all rebel fighters were aware of the deal.

There have been days of negotiations between the government in Sanaa and rebels on how to end the conflict.

The government had rejected a truce deal proffered by rebels several times because they feared the rebels were not serious about laying down their arms.

The rebels have been battling Yemen's army since 2004. More than 250,000 have been displaced in the region.

The government launched its latest offensive against the rebels last August. Saudi Arabia has also been drawn into the conflict.

The Yemeni government also faces two other conflicts: against southern separatists and militants sympathetic to al-Qaeda.

Houthi rebels from the minority Shia Zaidi sect based in the north-western Saada district have been battling the government for more than five years.



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