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Yemen, Rebels Accuse Each Other of Breaking Ceasefire

By VOA News
19 September 2009

Yemen's government and the Shi'ite rebels it is battling in the northern part of the country have accused each other of breaking a conditional ceasefire.

Military officials say the rebels continued Saturday to target government positions in Amran and Saada provinces while a rebel statement accused the army of carrying out rocket and artillery fire.

Late Friday, the government called a ceasefire to honor the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Yemen also said it acted in response to pleas from international groups - the United Nations in particular - to allow relief organizations access to the area.

The government said the ceasefire could be made permanent if the rebels accepted six conditions, including withdrawing from the region, ending attacks, and stopping interference in local government.

Yemen's government has been fighting Shi'ite rebels from the Zaidi sect intermittently over the past five years.

The government launched its latest offensive last month, after the rebels said they seized control of more territory in the northwest. Fighting has taken place between the government and Shi'ite Al Houthi rebels in and around Saada city in the north.

The government says the rebels want to restore a Shi'ite state that fell in the 1960s.

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concerned about reports of recent Yemeni military air strikes that killed dozens of civilians at a camp in the north.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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