Fierce fighting on Monday between Houthi militias and pro-government forces in Yemen’s third city Taez killed and wounded dozens of people, residents and an official said.
The clashes came a day after a U.N. official said a proposed peace conference for the impoverished country had been postponed indefinitely.
Witnesses said the fighting in several districts of Taez on Monday morning sparked panic among residents.
The clashes, which erupted on Sunday and raged overnight, have killed at least 30 Houthis and allied forces, the local official told Agence France-Presse.
He said a provisional toll showed at least five loyalists of exiled President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi were also killed.
At least 10 Houthis were killed at a checkpoint in western Taez, Popular Resistance forces – allied with Hadi – told Al Arabiya News Channel.
‘Massacre in Taez’
For a second consecutive day, Houthis and their allies targeted several Taez neighborhoods with rocket and tank fire, residents said.
According to Reuters news agency, Houthi fighters pushed back tribal and Islamist militiamen amid heavy street combat, as Saudi-led air raids hit a military base loyal to Houthis in the capital Sanaa.
Medics and residents told AFP late Sunday the Taez bombardment had killed 10 civilians and wounded 80.
“There’s a real massacre going on in Taez, the city that spearheaded the revolt” which caused the departure in early 2012 of president Ali Abdullah Saleh who supports the Houthis, resident Bassam al-Qadhi said.
“Saleh has aligned himself with the rebels to take revenge,” he added.
Meanwhile, officials in neighboring Daleh province said pro-Hadi fighters had retaken several positions from the rebels, including a military camp, in dawn fighting.
Clashes were ongoing mid-Monday, they said, especially at a now rebel-held base of the 33rd Armored Brigade.
Pro-government forces have seized six tanks during the fighting, they said.
Clashes were also reported in other southern provinces of Yemen on Monday, including Aden, Shabwa and Abyan.
It followed a day of intense raids by Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeting rebel arms depots and positions, witnesses said.
The postponement of the planned U.N. peace conference came just four days before it had been due to open in Geneva.
There had been growing uncertainty over who would attend the talks, and the postponement is a further blow to U.N. efforts to broker peace in a country where nearly 2,000 people have been killed since March, according to AFP.
A Saudi-led coalition has been bombing the Iran-allied Houthis for months and supporting Yemeni fighters opposing the groups in battle lines drawn across the country.
[With AFP and Reuters]