SANAA - Shi'ite Muslim fighters captured one of the main cities in northern Yemen on Tuesday, a local official and residents said, after days of fighting that has killed at least 200 people and puts the Houthi militants within 50 km (31 miles) of Sanaa.

The Houthis said their fight was against rivals loyal to the Islamist Islah party, and they had no intention of attacking the Yemeni capital, just south of the provincial capital of Omran.

The fighting began last week after a June 23 ceasefire collapsed with both sides blaming each other. The Yemeni army and air force then launched attacks on the Houthis.

Officials and medics said that at least 250 people were killed or wounded in the fighting for control of Omran on Tuesday. The fighting has also forced the only hospital in the city of 96,000 people to close down.

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