Fghting in the mountains of northwestern Yemen intensified Sunday as the government announced that it had killed more than 100 Shiite Muslim rebels, and humanitarian organizations voiced alarm over an estimated 100,000 people who have fled their homes since the conflict flared nearly two weeks ago.
The rebels rejected a cease-fire offer from the Sunni Muslim-dominated government at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan on Friday. The region has since echoed with the fire of artillery, tanks and aircraft as Yemeni forces moved to crush a five-year rebellion led by Shiite militant Abdul Malik Houthi in Saada and Amran provinces.
The fighting near the border with Saudi Arabia was another spasm across an increasingly unstable Yemen, a poor yet strategic country on the Gulf of Aden. U.S. officials are concerned that the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh is engulfed in conflicts that also include a separatist insurgency in the south and growing numbers of Al Qaeda fighters using the nation as a base to launch attacks across the Middle East. [continued…]