Aden (Yemen): Eight people were killed and dozens wounded when Shia Houthi gunmen opened fire to disperse thousands of protesters in Yemen’s southern province of Taiz on Tuesday, a medical official told Xinhua news agency.
According to a medical source inside the Ibn Sina public hospital, there are eight bodies of protesters while dozens of people injured were brought for treatment.
“Houthi gunmen wearing security uniforms opened fire at Taiz university students who were organising huge public rallies in the city (of Taiz),” a witness said.
“The protesters were chanting anti-Houthi slogans and demanded the militia to leave the province,” said Ali Gradi, a youth activist, in Taiz city, the provincial capital of Taiz province.
Meanwhile, fierce armed clashes took place between tribal militia and the Houthi gunmen in the southern province of Al-Dhalea.
Local sources said that several people on both sides were wounded, without giving an exact number of casualties.
The Shia Houthi militants took control over the provincial government headquarters and a number of state institutions in al-Dhalea.
The Houthi group has deployed thousands of fighters to Taiz city, the country’s third largest city, and mobilised forces to the border with the neighbouring southern Lahj province where troops supporting President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi have a large presence.
On Monday, Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi called for a mass military mobilisation to restore security in the south, accusing Hadi and the Gulf Arab countries of destabilising the country.
Hadi fled to Aden, the country’s second biggest city located in the south in late February after weeks of house arrest by the Houthi group in the capital Sanaa, and stepped up confrontations with the Shia group who took over control of the capital in September last year.
In his first public speech after he arrived in Aden, Hadi said on Saturday that the Houthi group should withdraw from Sanaa and other provinces.
Yemen has been gripped by widespread violence in the southern regions since early this month, raising fears that the impoverished country is slipping into a civil war.
UN envoy Jamal Benomar who has been brokering negotiations in Yemen for the past three years left for the Gulf Arab countries on Saturday.
The impoverished country mired in political gridlock in 2011 when mass protests forced former president Ali Abdullash Saleh to step down. The three-year reconciliation talks failed to resolve the crisis but created a huge power vacuum that could benefit the powerful Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and other extremist groups.