7 Yemen soldiers killed

SANAA: Seven Yemeni soldiers were killed and a number were wounded or captured in attacks launched by Shiite rebels in northern Yemen over the past two days, a military source told AFP on Friday.

"Clashes broke out after Huthi rebels attacked army bases in the Saada province, during which seven soldiers were killed, while a number of others were wounded or captured," the source said.

He did not give a breakdown of those reported hurt or captured by the Shiite rebels.

On Tuesday, an army officer was killed and two soldiers were wounded in an ambush on the road between Saada and Sanaa, the defence ministry said.

Tension is high in Saada province where mystery surrounds the fate of five Germans and a Briton kidnapped last month.

The six hostages were in a group of nine people captured in the region in mid-June. The bodies of the other three, two Germans and a South Korean, were discovered shortly afterwards.

Noone has claimed the attack, though Sanaa accuses the rebels.

Followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam, most Zaidis live in mainly Sunni Yemen and form a majority in the northern region.

Thousands have died since 2004 in clashes between government forces and the rebels led by Abdel Malek al-Huthi. They reject the current government and want a restoration of the Zaidi clerical regime overthrown in a military coup in 1962.