SANAA, April 21 (Xinhua) -- At least eight fighters were killed Tuesday in fighting between the Yemeni army and Houthi militia in the central province of Bayda, a local government military source said.
"A soldier and seven militiamen were killed during today's battle in al-Sawma'ah district," the source told Xinhua by phone on condition of anonymity.
"The fighting erupted after the Houthi militia launched a surprise attack on the troops' positions," the source added.
However, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the fighting erupted after the government troops attempted to advance toward the areas under his group control.
"Our fighters managed today to repel an attempt of advance (by the government troops) in al-Sawma'ah district of al-Bayda province," Sarea said in a statement carried by the group's al-Masirah television. He did not provide further details.
The fighting in al-Sawma'ah frontline has been raging on since late last month.
The Houthi group controls much of Bayda, which is located south of the government-controlled oil-rich province of Marib.
Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control of much of the country's north and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.
Last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Yemeni warring parties to "immediately cease hostilities, and do everything possible to counter a potential outbreak of COVID-19."
However, the fighting has been escalating on multiple frontlines. Enditem