Yemen’s Houthis enter southern town near Red Sea strait

Anti-Houthi protesters demonstrate in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Anees Mahyoub

(Reuters) – Fighters from Yemen’s dominant Houthi movement have entered the Red Sea port of al-Mukha, bringing them closer to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s refuge in Aden, security officials and residents said on Tuesday.

The advance also placed the Houthis, who seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa in September, a short drive from the Bab al-Mandeb strait, a Red Sea shipping lane vital to oil shipments.

To the east, Houthi units on Tuesday entered Dhalea town, traditionally a hotbed of southern separatism, and fought gun battles with tribesmen and militias from the southern independence movement, residents said.

To the north in Taiz province, clashes erupted between anti-Houthi protesters and troops in Turba village and nearby Taiz city. The soldiers opened fire on the protesters, killing at least four and wounding several others, medical officials said.

The latest action deepened the conflict in Yemen, a perennially unstable neighbour of oil power Saudi Arabia and a frontline in U.S. efforts to combat Islamist militants…

Hadi forces check Houthi push towards Yemen’s Aden