Hani Mohammed / AP

Clash in Yemen town kills 250 in three days, officials say

Yemen’s President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi lashes out against Houthis for first time since they seized Sanaa

Fighting in central Yemen between Houthi rebels and a tribe in the town of Radda has killed at least 250 people in the last three days, security officials said Monday.

The Houthis — a political and religious rebel group named after a former commander, Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi — captured Sanaa on Sept. 21 after weeks of anti-government protests focused on fuel price rises. The group signed a power-sharing agreement with other political parties soon afterward, a deal that was sanctioned by President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. But this has not deterred the Houthis from pushing into other parts of the country. Their leaders say they want a more representative national government that can combat corruption and secure the country. 

The violence in Yemen's Bayda province saw fighters from the influential Qifa tribe force the Houthis out of a part of Radda, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

Last week the Houthis entered Radda, some 125 miles south of the capital, Sanaa, after the commander of the army's Battalion 193 gave up his troops’ positions. The commander is said to be a loyalist of the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed after the country's 2011 uprising.

The Houthis gained control of Sanaa in September and have waged ongoing battles with opposing tribes and fighters from Al-Qaeda's Yemen branch.

A peace agreement signed between the Houthis and the government has so far failed to end the fighting.

Meanwhile, Hadi has lashed out at Houthis for the first time since they seized Sanaa.

"The armed expansion of the Houthis ... cannot be understood or accepted after signing the peace and national partnership agreement," Hadi said Sunday.

Hadi spoke at a joint meeting of the National Defense Council attended by presidential advisers and the country's newly nominated prime minister, Khaled Bahah.

Saleh and his party have joined ranks with the Houthis against a common enemy — the Islamist Islah party and its allied tribe of Al-Ahmar, traditional power brokers in Yemen.

The Houthi offensive has pushed Yemen into even deeper turmoil. Apart from the Qaeda insurgency and the Houthi rebel blitz, the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country has also endured crushing poverty that has bred resentment, giving new life to a decades-old secessionist movement in the country’s once independent southern region.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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