Yemenis Denounce Shiite Rebel Advance on Sanaa

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Hundreds of Yemenis protested outside the presidential residence in Sanaa Saturday over what they say is the authorities' inaction over a Shiite rebel advance on the capital.

The demonstrators, some from Amran province north of the city where Huthi rebels, also known as Ansarullah, are clashing with the army, chanted "Stop the Huthi advance!"

"I think the Huthis have taken to arms so they can take territory from Saada province to Amran, and I suspect they also want to enter Sanaa itself," said one protester, Nadia Abdullah.

Some demonstrators accused Shiite Iran of supporting the rebels, while others said they suspected former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was arming them "so he can overthrow President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi".

Clashes between the rebels and government forces eased on Saturday north of Sanaa after 48 hours of fierce fighting in which dozens of people were reported killed.

The flare-up came after the breakdown of an 11-day truce agreed after mediation backed by United Nations envoy Jamal Benomar.

Huthis have been battling the central government for years from their Saada heartland, complaining of marginalization under Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 after a year-long uprising.

In February, they seized areas of Amran province in fighting with tribes that killed more than 150 people.

The Huthis are suspected of trying to broaden their sphere of influence as Yemen is reorganized into six regions, pushing out from their mountain strongholds in the far north to areas closer to Sanaa.

They complain the country would be divided into rich and poor regions under a federalization plan agreed in February following national talks as part of a political transition.

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