Yemen

Yemen releases 200 Shia Houthi fighters

yemen_mapThe Yemeni government has released about 300 detainees belonging to the Shia Houthi fighters in the north and separatists in the south of the country. 

Official Saba news agency reported Tuesday that 200 Shia Houthi fighters detained in Sa’ada Province and 98 separatists arrested “for participation in unrest in certain provinces of the south” had been released. 

The releases came as part of an amnesty initiative introduced by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday. The initiative is expected to apply to a total of 800 southerners and 2,000 fighters in the north, AFP reported.

The president, who has called on “all those released to be good citizens and to respect the constitution and law” had previously proposed the creation of a unity government which includes opposition parties. 

The Shia Houthis accuse the government of corruption and discrimination against the Shia minorities in the north, while Yemen’s Socialist Party has also been struggling to re-establish south Yemen as an independent state. 

The conflict between the Yemeni government and the Shia Houthis peaked last November when Saudi Arabia joined forces with Sana’a to launch a major crackdown on the Shia fighters. 

However, Yemen has been experiencing relative peace since the government and the Shia Houthis signed a ceasefire in February. 

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