Thursday, 14 June 2012

Al Qaeda threatens to fight more effectively from caves and mountains


By Nasser Arrabyee/14/06/2012

Al Qaeda said it would spend all the money now only on itsv wars against the "Americans and their agents"  from the mountains and caves instead of fighting from the towns that needs a lot of money for services. 

The journalist Abdul Razaq Al Jamal said that the leader of Al Qaeda in Abyan  Jalal Beledi told him two weeks ago that Al Qaeda will return to the old tactics in its war with the government and Americans.   Beleidi said that they used to spend 400 million rials  (2 million dollars) per month in Abyan province only.  

This money now will be spent on the guerrilla wars which include suicide bombings, the unique weapons of terrorists. 

In Jaar, for instance, he said, 60 million rials ( 300,000US$) was spent every month.

A total of 4 dead bodies were found in a house in Zinjubar after Al Qaeda was forced to leave the town after more 18 months, said local military sources Thursday. 

In the house, a gallows was also found, which means some of those dead bodies were hanged and some were killed by shooting. The dead bodies and the gallows were found in the house of a  former security official in Zinjubar. 

Meanwhile, one of the wives of Al Qaeda leader Tarek Al Fadhli was injured when fighter jets bombed a number of cars carrying escapees at the area of Al Musaiheleh, 50 km east of Shuqrah, on the Gulf of Aden, said sources on Thursday.

Almost all Al Qaeda operatives and their families moved from Shuqrah to Bair Ali and Ahwar in roads other those where soldiers from the brigade 123 are waiting to arrest them, the sources said.

The sources excluded that Al Qaeda will regroup in Azzan, the last stronghold in Shabwah, because they know that the troops and American drones will strike them.  Al Qaeda will return to the old plans of guerrilla wars and will stay in caves and mountains. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Al Qaeda only changed tactics to better fight 'Americans' not defeated, says cleric 

By Nasser Arrabyee,12/06/2012

Al Qaeda was not defeated but changed its tactics of Jihad against the Americans and their agents, said a Yemeni cleric on Tuesday after the Yemeni army pushed out Al Qaeda from several areas in the south.
 "If the Yemeni government and America think they defeated Al Qaeda today, then they are wrong," said the cleric who asked not to be named.

"They will only turn to  guerrilla wars, at which they are very good, and this will cost Yemen a lot of time and money and everything," He said. 

"Without listening and implementing  what the divine scholars said in the meeting with President Hadi, Al Qaeda would only get stronger and stronger," Said the cleric who was one of those " Divine" scholars who told President Hadi to stop killing Mujahideen in Abyan and start dialogue with them instead.  

A group of religious scholars under the leadership of  prominent cleric Abdul Majid Al Zandani, accused by US and UN of supporting terrorism, asked Presidnet Hadi, in a special and public meeting late last month, asked him to start dialogue with Al Qaeda, Mujahideen, as they always refer to them.

" We told him very clearly that the solution is in the hands of the divine scholars, not in the hands of soldiers, Shariah  must be applied, and those who fight will stop," He said. 

Al Qaeda dying under " Golden Swords", and residents rejoice in south Yemen

Al Qaeda dying under " Golden Swords", and residents rejoice in south Yemen

By Nasser Arrabyee/12/06/2012

The Yemen army in cooperation with tribesmen says it is now starting  the
 "Golden Swords Operations" against the remnants of terrorists of Al Qaeda in the southern province of Abyan and Shabwah.

The three main strongholds of Al Qaeda in the southern province of Abyan, Jaar, Zinjubar, and Shuqrah are almost under the control of the army and tribesmen. 

The Governor of Abyan Jamal Al Akel said Tuesday after the army and tribesmen took control over the whole cities of Jaar and Zinjubar, that some 300  terrorists including the top leaders are escaping but being followed by an operation called the " Battles of golden swords".

The local residents of Jaar in the southern province of Abyan  have been rejoicing since early morning Tuesday after the army and tribesmen forced Al Qaeda to leave their town, local residents said. According to some residents in Jaar, Al Qaeda asked  for pardon before they were forced to leave the town. 
The residents found  papers signed by Al Qaeda addressing the local residents of Jaar who were forced by to leave their house more than one year ago.

  The papers say, "this is your town, preserve it, protect it, and please forgive us for not helping you, and forgive us for making you away from your houses all this time"

Jaar was declared as a  Taliban-style Islamic Emirate in April 2011. 
Zinjubar also was declared  a Taliban-style Emirate on May, 2012. Today Tuesday, June 12, 2012, Zinjubar which has been surrounded by army and tribesmen  from all directions for about two months, became under the control of the army. 

The brigade 119 stormed Zinjubar after remnants of Al Qaeda escaped by boats in the sea of the gulf of Aden during the last night, according to military and local sources. 

According to military statements, the Yemeni navy was able to besiege and sink 10 boats carrying  Al Qaeda operatives  while trying to escape through the sea to the last strongholds of Shuqrah in Abyan and also to the last,  last stronghold of Azzan  in Shabwah.

For the coastal town of Shuqrah  on Gulf of Aden, the second brigade of republican guards and tribesmen took control of Al Orkub, at the northern outskirts of this town which became besieged from all direction, north (Orkub), East ( Ahwar) and west ( Zinjubar).

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Soldiers demanding salaries surround house of military official in Sanaa, and army and tribesmen tighten the noose on Al Qaeda strongholds

By Nasser Arrabyee,10/06/2012

Hundreds of soldiers have beenl surrounding since morning the house of a military official in charge of salaries at the ministry of defense, said  sources in the besieged houses late  Sunday.

The house is located at Bait Mayed, in  southern part of capital Sanaa, and it belongs to general Abdullah Al Kabodi, the head of financial department at the ministry of defense. 

The soldiers around the house, many of them armed, demand their salaries, and accuse Al Kabodi of not wanting to approve their monthly payments.
Those soldiers are among about 20,000 soldiers who were recruited by  general Ali Muhsen after he defected from Saleh's army. The ministry of defense has not approved their payments until today. 

 The majority of the 20,000 were recruited from Al Eman  religious university owned and run by Shiekh Abdul Majid Al Zandani, who is accused by US and UN, of supporting local and global terrorism. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of armed tribesmen from the tribe of Abdullah Al Kabodi, overflowed to the area around the house in Bait Mayed  to defend their man, who is also their tribal leader. 

They say if their man made any mistake of any kind, he should be summoned by the prosecutor general not taken by force by orders from military and political officials who want only to settle accounts with him.

" We would defend ourselves and defend our tribal leader Abduallah Al Kabodi by all possible means, and we welcome any thing from the court or prosecution office," said Thu Yazan, one of the armed tribesmen inside the house. 

" If those soldiers are wronged and they demand their salaries, they should go to the house of minister of finance, or the house of the minister of defense, if they do not like courts," he added. 

" The one  who sent them, should reconsider his decision, we are tribesmen, and  we will not let our leader alone," Thu Yazan added. 

This incident coincided with a new attack by RPG, and mortars on the third brigade of the republican guards in Al Nahdeen area around the presidential house in Sanaa.

The attack of today Sunday was not the first, maybe not the last, implemented against the third brigade, one of the most powerful one in the republican guard forces which yis still under the son, Ahmed,  of former Presidnet Ali Abdullah Saleh. A dispute over who leads this brigade, is still unsolved, since a new commander was appointed by Presidnet Hadi last month. 

Military sources accused Al Qaeda of being behind such attacks because of the role of the republican guards in the battles going in Abyan against Al Qaeda. 

This attack came only hours after the minister of defense Mohammed Nasser Ahmed praised the role of the republican guards in the last successive defeats inflicted on Al Qaeda by the army in cooperation with the tribsmen of Abyan, the home province of the Presidnet Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

The coastal twon of Shuqrah, on the Gulf of Aden, is almost surounded from all directions. The republican gaurds and other army units controlled yesterday Al Erkob area, one of the most entrances in the northen outkirt of Shuqrah. 

And today sunday, the army closed Ahwar road , east of Shuqrah, and all  Al Qaeda special roads, subroads, between Shabwah, Abyan and Hudhrmout. 

Top leaders of AQAP, Nasser Al Wahayshi and Kasem Al Raimi  are believed to have escaped by a boat through the sea of the Gulf of Aden, from Shuqrah after siege imposed on the areas around the coastal twin of Shuqrah,  military sources said. 

Brother of president  Hadi, Nasser Mansour Hadi is participating in the battles of Shuqrah, said military sources Sunday. 

For Jaar, where battles still going on at its gate,  a second factory  of car bombs in Jaar was destroyed by air strikes, said military and local sources Sunday.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Defected Al Qaeda leader helps troops and tribesmen to defeat terrorists

By Nasser Arrabyee,07/06/2012

At least 30 people were killed in fierce battles between Al Qaeda and tribesmen and government troops at the gate of the Taliban-Style town of Jaar, south of Yemen, said local sources late Thursday. 

The former Al Qaeda leader Abdul Latif Al Sayed is leading the local tribesmen who fight against Al Qaeda with the troops in the area of Batis, at the outskirts of Jaar.

The clashes started earlier today when Al Qaeda sent three vehicles to Batis for the purpose of kidnapping all tribesmen who, they believe, cooperate with the government troops under the leadership of the "defector" Abdul Latif Al Sayed.
The armed tribesmen , known as Anti-AlQaeda popular committees, under the leadership of Al Sayed, surrounded the three vehicles inside Batis, big residential area about 5 km out of Jaar.

Al Qaeda started to shell Batis randomly destroying many houses and killing at least 10 of the residents and 5 of the armed tribesmen.

The army interfered late after noon Thursday when Al Qaeda wanted to storm Batis. At least 15 Al Qaeda fighters were killed when the army prevented them from advancing towards the residential area of Batis, according to military and tribal sources.

"Al Qaeda wanted to kill or arrest the defector Al Sayed who knows all their secrets," said  the tribemsen Hussein from Batis where he fights against Al Qaeda.
" Abdul Latif AlSayed joined us after became convinced that Al Qaeda had nothing to do with religion, and now he will help us a lot to quickly defeat these terrorists," Hussein added. 

Suicide bombings: Unique weapons of Al Qaeda

By Nasser Arrabyee,07/06/2012

A total of 4 suicide bombings were foiled over the last weeks that were targeting army units inside the camps in the capital Sanaa and its outskirts, according security sources Thursday. 

Two suicide bombers were arrested in one the military camps in the southern outskirts of the capital Sanaa while they were wearing explosives belts in one of the bathrooms, said the security sources.  The suicide bombers, who soldiers  in that unit planted by Al Qaeda, were planning to blow themselves up in a daily parade inside the camp. The other two suicide operations were foiled by arresting a secret cell that was planning to implement suicide bombings against military and security installations, according to the sources. 

Meanwhile, a will was found in the pocket of one the terrorists who were killed in Zinjubar this week. The will was from Salem Mohammed Nasser Al Awlaki, to his father asking him to pardon him for shortcomings in obeying. He asked his father to pay back his debts to some shopkeepers in Aden. 

Suicide bombings have become almost the only weapons with Al Qaeda in Yemen to survive. 

With the increase of  the American drone attacks from the sky and shelling  of Yemeni troops and tribesmen from the land and  sea, Al Qaeda decided to use its unique weapons that  no one else has. 

That is the suicide bombers of young men  who always  dream of the promised  paradise virgins.  

Three suicide bombings took place in almost the same geographical areas in less than 24 hours. On Tuesday June 5, 2012, late after noon, at least four Al Qaeda operatives were killed when their car bomb exploded before they reached their destination. 

The bombing took place inside the coastal town of Shuqrah in the Gulf of Aden, which is one of Al Qaeda strongholds in the southern province of Abyan. This bombing came only less than one day after  Al Qaeda had sent three suicide bombers to stop the troops and tribesmen from advancing to their Taliban style Emirate of Shuqrah. 

Two suicide  bombers one of them dressed in women clothes ( completely covered in women traditional clothes) drove their car bomb to the area of Umm Surah, about 40 km north of Shuqrah, where they blew themselves up killing four fighting tribesmen in addition to themselves. 

One more suicide bomber was  discovered before he blew himself up  in another group of gunmen, and  his explosives wrapped around his body  exploded after he was shot dead. This was  Somali national according to tribesmen participating in the fight against Al Qaeda in areas north of Shuqrah. 

The army closed seven main roads leading to the targeted town of Shukrah from all directions: east, west, and north, the fourth direction is the sea direction in the Gulf of Aden. The step to close the roads was aimed at monitoring any car from Al Qaeda. The army will shell or strike from air any car moving in these roads from 6 pm to 6 am every day starting from Monday  June 4.

Al Qeada, however, threatened to implement suicide operations inside the capital Sanaa against the US, UK, Saudi Arabia embassies, and other western embassies if the army and tribesmen insisted on storming their Emirates Shuqrah, Zinjubar and Jaar.

  The three towns are almost under the control of the army. Military and security officials from Yemen will also be targets in Sanaa and other cities according to Al Qaeda threats. Al Qaeda said the minister of defense Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, who supervises the battles, was the target in the car bombing of Monday in Umm Surah. 

"We will not keep silent, what happened on May 21, 2012 in the arena of the Presidential Palace was just the first message," said a source from Al Qaeda, referring to the suicide bombing that killed 100 soldiers and injured 300 others in the parade square in the capital Sanaa. 

Meanwhile, tribal and religious leaders in contact with Al Qaeda for mediating, said that the fighters of Al Qaeda might leave the towns of Zinjubar, Jaar and Shuqrah, but this will not be the end of terrorism.

" Because of this big campaign against them, I am expecting them to leave the three towns, but they will move to the mountains," said Sheikh Abdullah from Jaar " But  the problem will continue, so there should be dialogue with them if we want to end the problem," said Sheikh Abdullah, who works as a mosque speaker in Jaar. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Yemen donors running out of time to stem crisis

Source: Reuters, 06/06/2012

* Yemen faces hunger, budget and security crisis

* Needs at least $10 bln over 2012-2013 to stabilize - analyst

* Over $4 billion in aid pledged, donors to meet in late June

By Martin Dokoupil and Tom Finn

DUBAI/SANAA, June 6 (Reuters) - Anood al-Mikhlafi, sitting in the one-room shack she calls home in a shantytown on the outskirts of Yemen's capital Sanaa, rues the political chaos that has engulfed her impoverished country in the past year and left her family nearly destitute.

"We've never lived in comfort but last year pushed us to the limit and we had to sell our animals and my wedding jewelry. We have nothing to fall back on," she says.

Her husband lost his job in April after the concrete-mixing company he worked for went bankrupt. Her family pulled their children from school and sent them, illegally, to Saudi Arabia to beg and, perhaps, work.

"There is simply no work left here in Sanaa. We sent them to Saudi Arabia because we had no choice," she said.

A year of mass protests against the government and political turmoil, which forced Yemen's long-time leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit in February, has left the Arabian Peninsula state on the verge of bankruptcy. The unemployment rate has shot above 50 percent in a country where some 42 percent of the population of 24 million live on less than $2 a day.

Resource-rich Gulf neighbours and Western countries, who watched with mounting alarm as political crisis gave al Qaeda the opportunity to develop a base in Yemen from which to launch attacks around the world, last month pledged over $4 billion in aid to head off a humanitarian disaster and stabilise the state.

Yemeni experts and aid agencies such as Oxfam say that is not enough. If more aid is not provided soon, a transition process brokered by Saudi Arabia to try and ease the political turmoil, may fall apart, they say.

"For Yemen, $4 billion is not really enough. The budget is totally zero," said Mohamed al-Maytami, economics professor at Sanaa University. "Yemen needs urgent financial support, otherwise the transition process will fail."

The transition process saw President Saleh give way to his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in February after 13 months of protests against him spiralled into fighting between rival factions of Yemen's military and saw parts of Yemen's south fall to an Islamist militia allied to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Yemeni government troops are now engaged in a U.S.-backed drive to recapture territory in the south.

Government officials say the country is likely to run a $2.5 billion budget deficit this year. Modest oil and gas exports, which were a vital source of foreign exchange for the government, have been hit by repeated attacks by tribesmen on pipelines since the unrest started last year.

Hydrocarbons typically account for 60-70 percent of Yemen's income and the country is losing $15 million a day as a result of the attacks, authorities have said.

With the central bank's hard currency reserves low, the government has little room to manoeuvre.

"Within the next few months the government will be bankrupt, there will be no money for the police or for the army fighting al Qaeda," Abdulrahman al-Iryani, the country's former water minister, told Reuters.


The IMF, which resumed lending to Yemen in April, approving the payment of a $93.7 million loan to help address a worsening balance of payments deficit, predicts the Yemeni economy will shrink by 0.9 percent this year. That would follow an estimated 10.5 percent contraction last year, its worst performance since the unification of the north and south of the country in 1990.

The $4 billion aid pledge by international donors, agreed at a Riyadh conference last month, included $3.25 billion from host Saudi Arabia, which has a long, porous border with Yemen, and already provides it with oil.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at the conference that his country's contribution would support agreed development projects, but did not give details on their timing.

Long-term development funds, while welcome, may do little to answer an immediate humanitarian crisis and restore security, which Maytami estimates would require at least $10 billion over 2012-2013.

In April, the IMF forecast gross official reserves would remain at $4 billion in 2012 and the budget gap would widen to 5 percent of gross domestic product from 4.4 percent in 2011.

Shortages of electricity, water and fuel sent prices soaring last year, and although prices have decreased somewhat from their peaks, they are still too high for low-income families to cope with. Maytami estimates inflation is running at 25-30 percent.

The Yemeni rial's market rate has stabilized at around 215 to the dollar, from about 243 at the peak of the political crisis, but its depreciation and inflation are compounding food emergencies in a country with a per capita annual income of just $2,300.

"People buy affordable food that will fill them up quickly," said Majid al-Shahury, who owns a grocery shop in Sanaa. "Almost half of my customers buy their food on credit, some take months to pay off the bill."


Yemeni officials told the Riyadh conference they needed $2.17 billion immediately for humanitarian and other purposes, and $5.8 billion for longer-term development and infrastructure projects.

The United Arab Emirates, which has said it will give Yemen food aid worth $136 million, is considering a separate contribution. Donors will meet in Riyadh again in late June to discuss the aid pledges.

Yemen's experience with pledges of assistance from neighbours is mixed: its planning minister has estimated that some $3 billion of $4.7 billion aid pledged by the Friends of Yemen group when it first met in 2006 has not been delivered.

Donors and some Yemeni officials have argued the chaotic security situation, as well as corrupt and dysfunctional state institutions, impede aid by making it impossible to know whether it will be spent effectively, stolen or simply wasted.

"Most of it was not used because Yemen didn't have the capacity to absorb the money in development projects for which the money was allocated," said Charles Schmitz, an expert on Yemen at Towson University in Maryland in the United States.

Iryani, the former minister, said the most effective form of aid may be to bypass the government, and put money directly in the hands of Yemenis, abroad.

"What Yemen needs now is quick cash. Traditional development funds now are really not going to be effective," he said, arguing neighbouring Saudi Arabia held a possible key, albeit politically fraught, to defusing the humanitarian crisis.

In the 1980s, more than 1.3 million Yemenis worked in wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and could even travel to Saudi Arabia without a visa. Since 1990, when Yemen failed to join its neighbours' condemnation of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, they have been largely replaced by labourers from Asia.

Yemenis working in the GCC countries in 2010 sent home an estimated $1 billion in remittances, according to a Chatham House research paper. It said security fears and concerns about potential involvement in local politics were key obstacles to employing more Yemenis in Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, a monarchy that tolerates no political organization.

"The quickest and most direct way to help Yemenis is to grant them easier access to employment in Saudi," Iryani said. "This type of income comes directly back to poor families in Yemen and not to the government and its agents."

As a result of the war with Al Qaeda : tens of thousands in Abyan in need of urgent help

Source: ICRC, 06/06/2012

Sana'a/Geneva (ICRC) – In recent days, fierce fighting, sometimes involving air strikes, has led to a severe deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Abyan governorate, southern Yemen, and hampered the ability of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to deliver urgently needed assistance. 

"We are extremely concerned about the people trapped inside, and about the dire situation in Ja'ar, Shukra and in nearby areas where fighting is going on," said Eric Marclay, the head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen. "Our staff were there a few days ago to assess the situation and found serious, urgent needs that, if not met, could lead to the displacement of over 100,000 people. Thousands of people have already fled to safer places." 

Food reserves are running short, prices are soaring and health-care services are inadequate. The area has been without electricity for over a week. As a result, the water supply network, which relies on electrical pumps, has also been disrupted. Fuel is available only sporadically, and only on the black market at inflated prices. 

"If we were immediately allowed to bring relief supplies in to Abyan, we could prevent population movements towards Aden," declared Mr Marclay 

Yesterday, all roads leading to the governorate were blocked, and movement in and out was restricted. "We are calling on all parties involved in the fighting to grant the ICRC immediate access and security guarantees, so that it can deliver much-needed assistance and prevent an acute humanitarian crisis," said Mr Marclay. 

In its capacity as a strictly neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC has repeatedly reminded those involved in the fighting of their obligation under international humanitarian law to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. All parties must distinguish at all times between civilians and combatants. In addition, they must respect and protect medical and humanitarian personnel, and ensure to the fullest extent practicable and with the least delay that the wounded have safe access to medical care.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Yemen army tightens the noose on  Al Qaeda in south Yemen 

Source: Reuters, 04/06/2012

SANAA-The Yemeni army geared up for a push to try to take a southern coastal town from al Qaeda-linked fighters on Monday, residents said, part of a U.S.-backed offensive in a country Washington sees as a frontline of its war against the Islamist militants.

The United States and its Gulf allies are alarmed by the deteriorating security in Yemen, where al Qaeda's Arabian Peninsula wing (AQAP) took advantage of a split in the military during an uprising against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh and seized territory in the south province of Abyan last year.

Shi'ite rebels known as Houthis also exploited the political upheaval and carved out their own state within a state in the rugged northern province of Saada, on the border with Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.

The United States, which helped engineer Saleh's replacement by his deputy in February, is backing an offensive in the south and has stepped up its campaign of drone strike assassinations of alleged al Qaeda members it says plot attacks from Yemen.

It has also sent dozens of military trainers and stepped up aid to Yemen where it wants President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to reunify the military and focus it against AQAP.

Yemeni troops have moved into the centre the southern town of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, where they fought AQAP militants on Sunday. They also clashed with the Islamists in the town of Jaar, some 30 km (20 miles) to the north.

Meanwhile hundreds of troops backed by tanks were closing in on the militant-held town of Shaqra, some 50 km (30 miles) along the coast east of Zinjibar, residents there said.

"They are getting ready to fight," a resident told Reuters by telephone.

Shaqra is on a major shipping route and the gateway for Somalis entering Yemen to fight alongside al Qaeda.


Meanwhile, two suicide bombers targeting an army checkpoint in Lawdar, another town in Abyan, killed four people and wounded another, the Defence Ministry said in a text message. The bombers, one of whom was dressed as a woman, were also killed.

"The attack was targeting Colonel Mohammed Batreeh, the head of military intelligence in Abyan province," a local official told Reuters. "He survived, but the innocent people were the ones who got killed."

Militants retreated last month from the town of Lawdar, some 130 km (80 miles) northeast of Zinjibar.

"Getting rid of those people needs time. They are like a plague," said Abu Saada, a tribesman fighting alongside the army in Abyan, referring to the AQAP fighters.

While fighting raged in the south, at least 34 people were killed in clashes overnight between Sunni Muslim Salafis and Houthi Shi'ite rebels in northern Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, wary of the rising regional power of Shi'ite Iran and is grappling with its own Shi'ite unrest in eastern provinces, fought the Houthis in north Yemen in 2009.

The U.S. envoy to Yemen said earlier this year there were signs that Shi'ite Iran was becoming more active in Yemen, posing a threat to the country's security and stability. Iran denies interfering there.

Saudi Arabia, a main regional U.S. ally, says Iran is fomenting unrest among its own Shi'ites in its east and in neighbouring Sunni-led Bahrain.

A spokesman for the Salafis - who see Shi'ites as heretics and espouse a puritanical creed with many followers in Saudi Arabia - said Houthi fighters attacked them on Sunday night in the Kataf area of the northern Saada province.

"We have regained control of a mountain site in the al-Damaj area after heavy clashes with the Houthis during which 18 of the attackers were killed along with 16 of ours," the spokesman told Reuters on Monday. Dozens were wounded in the clashes, he added.