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Clashes kill 73 Saudi security force members, official says

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 73 members of Saudi security forces killed since November 3
  • Victims killed in clashes between Saudi forces and Houthi rebels from northern Yemen
  • Fighting in the Saada region of northern Yemen has spilled into Saudi Arabia
  • Houthi rebels want greater control of their territory
RELATED TOPICS
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Yemen

(CNN) -- Fighting that has spilled from Yemen into Saudi Arabia has killed 73 members of the Saudi security forces since November 3, a Saudi spokesman said Tuesday.

Another 26 Saudi soldiers have been reported missing since clashes broke out between Saudi forces and Houthi rebels from northern Yemen, said Abdul-Rahman Al-Hazza, spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Information.

The assistant Saudi minister of defense, Prince Khaled bin Sultan, announced the casualty figures Tuesday, al-Hazza said.

The Houthi rebels have been battling the Yemeni government for five years. The rebels want greater control of their territory. They practice Shiite Islam in Yemen, where Sunni Muslims make up a majority.

Fighting in the Saada region of northern Yemen has spilled into Saudi Arabia, forcing schools to close and sending thousands of people fleeing, the United Nations has said.

In the last six weeks, Saudi forces have conducted air strikes and shelled targets to try to keep Houthi rebels off Saudi territory, said Chris Boucek, an associated in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom and Eve Bower contributed to this story.