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Yemen confirms Shiite rebel seizure of army base, capturing 228

2010-07-31 16:01:57 GMT2010-08-01 00:01:57 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SANAA, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni Shiite rebels have held 228 soldiers and pro-government tribesmen captive after they seized an army base in the country's troubled north, the Higher Security Committee confirmed on Saturday.

"Houthi rebel elements (Shiite rebels) besieged Zalaa army base in the northern district of Harf Sufian of Amran province for two months before they took it over on July 26," the committee said in a statement carried by the Yemeni Defense Ministry.

The Zalaa army base in Amran overlooks a main highway linking capital Sanaa and northern Saada province which bordering neighboring oil rich exporter Saudi Arabia.

"A total of 228 persons, including government troops, followers of pro-government tribal leader and member of Parliament Sheikh Sageer Aziz, were taken captive by the rebels," said the committee.

In the statement, the committee blamed the rebels on their continuing criminal acts against the nation.

"The continual, daily criminal acts by the rebels prove that they are not inclined to peace, but diverted to pursue other known plans," the statement added.

Meanwhile, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Saturday renewed his peace call to the rebels, calling on them to comply with the Feb. 11 ceasefire deal and stressing that the state's option is peace.

"We reiterate that the rebels in Saada should abide by the six- point terms of the truce agreement, the state's option is peace while the rebels' option is war," Saleh said in a speech reported by the official Saba news agency.

"The latest breaching of the truce deal by the rebels due to the aggression on the house of member of Parliament Sheikh Sageer Aziz and a number of the army personnel, during which the rebels besieged them for two months," Saleh added.

Yemen has witnessed sporadic battles since 2004 between government troops and Shiite Houthi rebels whom the government accused of seeking to re-establish a clerical rule overthrown by the 1962 Yemeni revolution which yielded the Yemeni republic.

On February 11, Sanaa government and the independence-seeker rebels sealed a truce deal to end the six-year sporadic conflict. Both sides, however, repeatedly trade accusations of breaching the truce which still holds so far.

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