Yemen convicts rebels, Iran denies ship seizure
A Yemeni court sentenced to death four men involved in a Shi'ite rebellion in its northern provinces bordering Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, while Iran denied a Yemeni claim to have seized a ship with arms for the rebels, Reuters reported.
On Monday, Yemen said it had impounded a vessel carrying weapons destined for the rebels of the Zaidi Shi'ite sect and detained its Iranian crew at the Red Sea port of Medi, in Haja province bordering the area of conflict.
Iran's Arabic language television channel Al-Alam reported "informed Iranian sources" saying on Tuesday that no Iranian vessel delivering weapons to the rebels was stopped, and describing the story as a "media fabrication".
Yemen's embassy in Washington said security officials were questioning the ship's five Iranian crew members.
Sanaa has suggested an Iranian hand behind the rebels, often termed Houthis after their clan and religious leaders. Government officials have said Iranian media backs the rebels and Saleh said Iranian religious figures provide funding.
Shi'ite power Iran and Shi'ite allies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq have called on Sanaa to bring the fighting to an end through negotiations.
The Houthis first took up arms against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2004, citing political, economic and religious marginalisation by the Saudi- and Western-backed government.
But the conflict intensified in August when the army unleashed Operation Scorched Earth. Aid groups, who have been given limited access to the northern provinces, say up to 150,000 people have fled their homes since 2004.