ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - Clashes between the Yemeni army and tribesmen in Marib province left seven dead and more than 15 injured late on Thursday, tribal sources said.
The sources told Reuters that tribesmen in the region had intercepted a brigade from the army that was traveling from the southern province of Shabwa towards the country’s capital, Sanaa.
The tribesmen believed the troops were being led by followers of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who they believe supports the Shiitee Houthis and planned to arm the group in their region, the tribal sources said.
The violent clashes between the two sides led to the death of five soldiers and two tribesmen and injured another 15 soldiers and tens of tribesmen, the sources said.
Westerns diplomats and Yemeni officials also say the Houthis are getting support from Saleh, who came under U.N. Security Council sanctions last year for threatening Yemen’s peace and stability, something he denies.
The Marib tribesmen managed to seize the equipment and weapons belonging to the troops, a tribal source said. Tensions are easing now, the source said, after talks between the government and the tribesmen, who agreed to hand over the weapons they had seized to the ministry of defense.
No one from the Yemeni government was immediately available to comment.
Yemen’s main petroleum export route is in Marib, an eastern province where oil flows at a rate of around 70,000 barrels per day.
Western powers are worried about the volatile situation in Yemen, which is fighting both al Qaeda militants and separatist rebels. The country shares a long border with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter.
Reporting by Mohamed Mokhashaf; Editing by Larry King