Nine people have been killed in sectarian fighting in northern Yemen between Shiite Huthi rebels and Sunni Islamists backed by local tribes, a tribal source said Friday.

Huthi rebels have been battling the Sanaa government for nearly a decade in the remote Saada province, but the outbreak of fighting with Sunni militants has deepened the sectarian dimension of the unrest.

“Seven Huthis and two tribesmen were killed on Thursday in the clashes, which is continuing intermittently,” particularly in the Kitaf area in the north of Saada and in neighbouring Amran province, the source told AFP.