- A bomb explodes near a Houthi-controlled hospital; at least seven people are killed
- The blast comes a week after a U.N.-brokered peace agreement
- Houthis follow the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam
A bomb-laden vehicle exploded near a hospital controlled by Houthis in the northeastern province of Mareb on Sunday, killing at least seven, several local sources told CNN.
The Houthis had engaged in protests that essentially halted life in the Yemeni capital until last week, when Yemen's President, Houthi rebels and major political parties reached a deal to bring an end to the violence.
At least two dozen Houthis were injured in Sunday's attack, with three in critical condition, according to eyewitnesses in Al Gafra district of Mareb.
Houthi officials, also known as Ansarullah, refused to comment on details of the attack to CNN.
A Twitter account with links to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility in the attack. The Yemeni government did not immediately blame any group for the attack.
Houthis, who follow the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam, seized control of Al Gafra, a highway district connecting Mareb to the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, after four days of clashes with local tribes that ended two weeks ago.
Mareb has long been a Sunni tribal stronghold. Experts say the attack against the Houthis is no surprise.
"After the Houthi victory in Sanaa, zl Qaeda knows that Houthis will plan to expand to new areas, mainly Mareb and Baitha provinces. The more they infiltrate Mareb, the more car bombs will target their fighters," said AbdulSalam Mohammed, president of the Sanaa-based Abaad Strategic Center.
On Saturday, Houthi gunmen surrounded the residence of the National Security Bureau Chief, resulting in clashes with his guards. Seven people were killed in the confrontation.
Houthis are demanding that major changes within the bureau take place, which includes sacking the current chief. They claim the bureau works closely with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Last week, a U.N.-brokered deal ended more than a month of tense protests by Houthi supporters that resulted in hundreds of people being killed or injured. The deal calls for a ceasefire and for a prime minister to be announced by President Abdurabu Hadi within three days of the signing. No announcement has been made by the government though the deadline passed 48 hours ago.
Before the deal was signed, Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa gave in to the militants' demands for changes in the government and resigned Sunday, saying he did so for the best of Yemen.
The car bomb is the second against Houthis this week.
Fifteen Houthi fighters were killed and dozens injured when a vehicle exploded at a building used as a meeting place for Houthi supporters in the northern Saada province earlier in the week. The attack was the first such attack against Houthis in the province of Saada, home of their leader, Abdul Malik Al Houthi.
The death toll from the government and Houthi clashes in Sanaa this month exceeds 350, according to two Ministry of Health officials. More than a thousand people were also injured.
Though a ceasefire deal was signed, Houthis continued protesting in Sanaa with hundreds of their fighters still spread in checkpoints in the heart of Sanaa.