A high-ranking military commander was killed on Thursday evening along with six of his bodyguards by Houthi gunmen in the northern Yemeni province of Amran, Reuters reported.
Houthis mainly control the far northern province of Saddah but recently they have expanded their grip over some parts of Hajjah, Al-Jawf, and Amran provinces.
Some of the Shiite gunmen have opened fire on the officer's car when they refused to stop at a checkpoint set up by the rebels in Haraf Suffian area of Amran, killing him along with six of his bodyguards.
Some of the officer's bodyguards have fired back, leaving three Houthis killed, said Reuters.
Abdu Malak al-Houthi, the militant group leader, has confirmed that two of his men had been killed and the third is still missing.
"This brutal, unjustified aggression reveals the barbarity of this officer and those who stand behind him and their disregard for the blood of the people and their hatred for the sons of the northern provinces," Reuters has quoted him as saying.
Saddah, a province neglected by the government in terms of public projects , services and infrastructure, has witnessed six war within the the span of 6 years between Houthi gunmen and army troops, leaving thousands killed and others injured, and triggering a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the area as more than 200000 people were forced to flee their homes due to the armed conflict.
The Houthis, who are accused of being an agent of Tehran, expanded their territory towards neighboring Hajjah, where they alledgedly aiming to take control of Midi port. The port, according to the tribesmen, would make it easy for Iran to smuggle more weapons for them.
Sectarian clashes break out every now and then between Shiite Houthis and Sunni local tribesmen n the northern province of Hajjah.
Saudi Arabia, the regional power that has the most sway in Yemen, has voiced its concerns over Houthi's control of Saddah, a city nearby its southern borders, calling on the interim government to reestablish central government rule over the province.
The top oil exporter, which many allege that it has the last say in any internal matter in Yemen, was involved in the war against Houthis alongside the government forces, using it's advanced jet fighters. However, the Houthi gunmen managed to infiltrate the borders, killing some borders guards, and capturing some others.
Newly-elected President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi confirmed on Monday that he had received letters from Houthi leaders, indicating that they would take part in the upcoming national dialogue.
Shiite insurgency in the north, Southern Movement- calling for the separation of the south -and Al-Qaeda increasingly dangerous threat in the south, and revolutionary youth across the country who refuse to remove their camping sit-ins even after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was being eased out of power in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
These challenges and many others underscore the enormity of challenges facing Hadi and the Interim government.