Yemen rebels 'captured 200 soldiers'

In the renewed conflict in northern Yemen, the Houthi rebels have taken 200 soldiers prisoner, according to a military official cited by AFP. The troops are said to belong to a regiment of the Republican Guard.

The capture of the soldiers has not been confirmed by the rebels. A Houthi spokesman said: "It might be true that there are prisoners, but no information is available on either their number or their fate." Meanwhile, tribal sources told AFP that the captive soldiers have been transferred to the north-eastern regions of Matra and Naqaa, the rebels' main strongholds.

If the report proves correct, this will clearly bring a new escalation in the conflict after the truce announced in February began to break down earlier this month.

Separately, it's worth sounding another note of caution about claims of al-Qaeda attacks in Yemen. In the past, al-Qaeda has been blamed for several incidents that turned out to be the work disgruntled tribesmen, and Monday's reported "attack" on the British embassy was attributed to al-Qaeda by the police. It now appears to have been nothing more than an altercation between two of the embassy's Yemeni guards (see update below).

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 28 July 2010.