24 Yemenis killed in clashes between Houthis, pro-Salafi militants

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At least 24 people have been killed and dozens injured in clashes that have erupted between Yemeni government forces and local fighters in the north.

Tribal sources said the casualties occurred on Friday during heavy clashes between troops allied with pro-Salafi militants and Shia Houthi fighters.

According to the sources, the fighting was over the control of local government offices in Hizm, the capital of al-Jawf Province.

Earlier this month, Houthi fighters captured the strongholds of pro-Salafi tribal militants in the north.

The takeover followed weeks of fighting in the region that had left scores of people dead.

Both the Houthi fighters and southern separatists have rejected a proposed federal structure, which would transform the impoverished Arab state into a federation. This would create four regions in the north and two in the country’s south.

The Houthis argue that the initiative would divide Yemen into rich and poor regions.

Yemen’s southern residents, meanwhile, complain that they have been economically and politically marginalized by the central government in Sana’a.

The idea of creating a federal system has been a part of Yemen’s political transition, after a popular uprising forced longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office in February 2012.

Yemen is the Arab world’s poorest country. Forty percent of the people of Yemen are living on two US dollars a day or less and one-third are wrestling with chronic hunger.

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