Fierce confrontations flared up between the Shia Houthi group and Al Qaeda-backed Sunni tribesmen in Yemen's central province of Al Bayda Monday, leaving at least 22 people dead, a government official said.
"Dozens of fighters belonging to the Shia Houthi group engaged in intense fighting with Sunni tribesmen in different areas of the central Al Bayda province, leaving at least 22 people dead and several others injured," the local official said on condition of anonymity, Xinhua reported.
"Most of the dead were Shia Houthi gunmen," said the official, who works at the local council of Al Bayda province, which has been subjected to ferocious attacks by the Shia Houthi group over the past four weeks.
Shia Houthi fighters have succeeded in capturing a number of villages and the cities around, forcing hundreds of people to flee to neighbouring provinces.
On Sunday, Yemen's new government vowed to restore security and put economy back on track, despite rejection from the ruling General People's Congress party and the Shia Houthi group that controls the capital Sanaa.
The Shia Houthi group advanced to the country's southern regions after they took control of Sanaa in late September. However, they have met increasing resistance from Sunni tribes and Al Qaeda militants.
The Shia group, based in the far northern province of Saada, has been expanding influence southward after signing a UN-sponsored ceasefire deal with the Yemeni government Sep 21. The deal put an end to week-long deadly clashes, and also empowers Houthi rebels to play an important role in forming a new cabinet and determining the future control of the army.