Yemeni troops on Saturday shot dead five al-Qaeda suspects disguised as women who fired at a soldier during a checkpoint inspection of their Saudi-bound bus, officials said.
Another suspect was wounded along with the driver in the shooting at Harad, a town 15 km from the Saudi border, the officials said, adding two of those killed were Saudis.
"As one of the soldiers climbed on board the bus for an inspection, one of the suspects opened fire and wounded him, prompting shooting from other soldiers at the checkpoint," said a government official who gave the casualty toll.
All of the six men had been dressed in black robes and wore the niqab, a face-covering veil commonly worn by women in Yemen, the official in Harad told AFP.
A suicide belt and arms were also found on board the bus, and the wounded suspect and driver are being questioned, the security official said.
"The men are suspected of affiliation with al-Qaeda and were heading north towards Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia," he told AFP.
Violence in Sana'a
Clashes broke out Saturday between Shiite Houthi militants and Yemeni tribesmen in the Arhab district in northern Sana’a, a tribal source told Anadolu Agency.
"The clashes erupted in several areas in the district," the source said.
Casualties were reported in the violence.
"The Houthis have brought a tank into the district to fight the tribesmen," the source added.
Houthi leaders could not be reached for comment by AA.
Ansarullah militiamen, also called Houthis, have captured many communities in western and central Yemen since taking the capital Sana’a on September 21.
The violence in Arhab erupted one day after six Houthi militants were killed in clashes with tribesmen in the district in central Yemen on Friday, tribal sources said.
The sources told AFP that "unknown gunmen" killed six militiamen at a Houthi checkpoint in the central province of Baida, the scene of deadly fighting between the group and al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Friday said on Twitter that it had killed "70" Houthi militiamen in several attacks in Rada, in Baida province.
AFP could not confirm the toll from independent sources or from the Houthis, who rarely acknowledge their casualty numbers.
The Houthis' growing power in fractious Yemen has raised fears of sectarian conflict in the poor Arab country, which has remained in turmoil since a 2011 popular uprising ended the decades-long rule of president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
AQAP military chief Qassem al-Rimi vowed in November to launch fierce attacks against the Shiite militiamen.
"To the Houthis we say: brace yourselves for horrors that will make the hair of children turn white," he said.
AQAP, considered by Washington as the most dangerous arm of al-Qaeda, said several of its attacks targeting Huthis were only a "warm-up".
AQAP leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi has also accused the Houthis of collaborating with the United States and Iran to destroy Sunni Muslims.