Yemeni army has killed 17 Muslim Shia fighters and destroyed several vehicles that were carrying aid to the fighters, the official Saba news agency reports.
According to the agency, Yemeni troops killed 17 Zaidi local fighters and arrested four others in fighting late on Wednesday in the mountainous province of Saada, north of the country, as the army has stepped up its all-out offensive against the Zaidi Shia Muslims – also known as Houthis.
Jet fighters hit posts of the Houthi fighters as the troops were exchanging fire with Houthis, a local official told Saba.
The army has also destroyed several vehicles that were carrying aid to the fighters, he added.
The Yemeni military launched an offensive against the Zaidi Muslims in Saada and Amran provinces three weeks ago, accusing the Zaidis of trying to restore a Zaidi imamate system, overthrown in a 1962 coup.
Zaidi Muslims say they are defending themselves against religious oppression and they have vowed to retaliate against the attacks until their rights are achieved.
They also accuse Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda of helping the Yemeni government in its crackdown on Houthis.
Yemen’s recent military offensive against Zaidi Shia fighters – dubbed ‘Operation Scorched Earth’ – has left scores of civilians dead and thousands of others displaced.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has warned about the dire humanitarian situation in Saada province since fighting has prevented emergency aid from reaching the crisis-hit area.