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Houthi attack kills 11 loyalists in southern Yemen: official

A surprise Houthi attack killed 11 fighters loyal to the Yemeni government in the country’s south early on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the southern forces said, in a rare flareup.

Mohammed al-Naqib from the main southern separatist group the Southern Transitional Council (STC) said their fighters were the target of the attack in Lahij province.

Eleven fighters were killed while repelling the rebels, al-Naqib told AFP.

“The Houthis did not advance a single step,” he added.

A military official confirmed the toll, saying the government loyalists thwarted the Houthi attack, which lasted for five hours.

He said several rebels were also killed but did not give an overall figure.

Wednesday’s clashes took place near the provincial borders of Taez, a front-line governorate which is split between rebel and government control.

The attack comes despite a lull in fighting that has held in Yemen since the expiry of a six-month truce brokered in April 2022.

While hostilities have remained low, sporadic flareups have occasionally gripped parts of the country.

In March last year, at least 10 soldiers were killed in clashes with Houthi rebels in the oil-producing Marib province, a main flashpoint region.

The Houthis seized control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led military intervention the following year.

Nine years of war have left hundreds of thousands dead through direct and indirect causes, and triggered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

In December, the UN envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said warring parties had committed to a new ceasefire and agreed to engage in a UN-led peace process to end the war.

But the peace process has stalled in the wake of Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea since November, a campaign the rebels say is meant to signal solidarity with Palestinians amid Israel’s brutal war on Gaza.

On Wednesday, US special envoy Tim Lenderking said the Red Sea attacks are undermining the peace process.

“Successful negotiations are extremely difficult as long as the Huthis continue their aggressive actions,” he said during a virtual briefing.

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