Yemeni Shi'ite, Sunni fighters respect new ceasefire

November 10, 2013 10:32

SANAA - Fighting in northern Yemen between Shi'ite Houthis and Sunni Muslim Salafis stopped on Sunday as a ceasefire agreement, brokered by government mediators, took effect, a Yemeni official said.

Clashes have killed at least 100 people since they broke out on Oct. 30 when Houthi fighters, who control much of Saada province on the border with Saudi Arabia, accused Salafi rivals in the town of Damaj of recruiting thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them.

The Salafis say the foreigners are students seeking to deepen their knowledge of Islam.

"The confrontations have ended in Saada and the ceasefire took effect half an hour ago," Yehia Abuesbaa, head of a presidential committee tasked with ending the fighting, told Reuters by telephone from Damaj.

Sectarian rivalry in Damaj has cast a shadow over reconciliation efforts in Yemen, a neighbor of top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and home to one of al-Qaida's most active wings.

An attempt to broker a ceasefire last week collapsed less than a day after it was declared, but the lull in fighting enabled Red Cross officials to evacuate nearly 70 people from Damaj.

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