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Seven Shiite rebels are sentenced to death

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-06

A Yemeni court has sentenced seven people to death for carrying out "criminal" acts and belonging to a Shiite rebel group involved in an uprising against security forces last year.

AFP - A Yemeni court on Monday sentenced seven people to death for carrying out "criminal" acts and belonging to a Shiite rebel group which has been involved in a deadly uprising.

The court sentenced seven other defendants to terms of between 12 and 15 years in jail.

A total of 190 people are being tried in batches on charges over fighting against Yemeni security forces just north of the capital Sanaa in 2008.

"Death to America and death to Israel," the defendants cried after the court issued the verdict.

Gunfights broke out between rebels and security forces in an area northeast of Sanaa during which hundreds were killed or wounded between March and June 2008.

The rebels, whose stronghold is in Saada in the far northern mountains, want to restore the Zaidi imamate that was overthrown in a republican coup in 1962.

The insurgents are known as Huthis after their late commander, Hussein Badr Eddin al-Huthi, who was killed by the army in September 2004. Hussein was succeeded as field commander by his brother Abdul Malak.

An offshoot of Shiite Islam, Zaidis are a minority in mainly Sunni Yemen but form the majority in the north.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Yemen is also battling unrest in the south, where separatist sentiment runs deep almost two decades after unification with the north.

The ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the country has also seen a string of attacks on foreign targets, oil facilities and government buildings claimed by Al-Qaeda loyalists.

Date created : 2009-07-06