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Shiite rebels battle al-Qaida militants in their stronghold in Yemen, 8 killed

  • A Houthi Shiite rebel wearing a beret, stands guard while other Houthi Shiite members dismantle a protest camp on a road leading to the Sanaa Airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Yemeni security officials say fierce clashes have erupted between Shiite rebels in control of the capital and tribesmen allied with the country's Islamist Islah party, leaving eight dead. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    A Houthi Shiite rebel wearing a beret, stands guard while other Houthi Shiite members dismantle a protest camp on a road leading to the Sanaa Airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Yemeni security officials say fierce clashes have erupted between Shiite rebels in control of the capital and tribesmen allied with the country's Islamist Islah party, leaving eight dead. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Houthi Shiite rebels riding on a pickup truck, patrol a street while other members dismantle a protest camp on a road leading to the Sanaa Airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Yemeni security officials say fierce clashes have erupted between Shiite rebels in control of the capital and tribesmen allied with the country's Islamist Islah party, leaving eight dead. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    Houthi Shiite rebels riding on a pickup truck, patrol a street while other members dismantle a protest camp on a road leading to the Sanaa Airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Yemeni security officials say fierce clashes have erupted between Shiite rebels in control of the capital and tribesmen allied with the country's Islamist Islah party, leaving eight dead. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Houthi Shiite rebels remove a tent that was erected two months ago, at a sit-in at a main road leading to the airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Yemeni security officials say fierce clashes have erupted between Shiite rebels in control of the capital and tribesmen allied with the country's Islamist Islah party, leaving eight dead. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    Houthi Shiite rebels remove a tent that was erected two months ago, at a sit-in at a main road leading to the airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Yemeni security officials say fierce clashes have erupted between Shiite rebels in control of the capital and tribesmen allied with the country's Islamist Islah party, leaving eight dead. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

Security officials in Yemen say at least eight people were killed as clashes raged between al-Qaida militants and Shiite rebels who are fighting for the control of a city in the country's central heartland.

The officials said residents of Radda, in the province of Bayda south of the capital, have fled because of the intense fighting, which killed five rebels and three militants early Saturday.

The Shiite rebels overran the city a day earlier.

In another province south of the capital, a security official said an explosion killed four Shiite rebels when it hit their convoy travelling to the city of Ibb, where the Shiites have been fighting tribesmen allied with Islamists.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.