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Hani Mohammed, Associated Press
A Yemeni government supporter holds a representation of the national flag with Arabic writing that reads, "Together for Yemen," during a rally against Hawthi Shiite rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. The conflict between Hawthis and the government is rooted in enmity between the Shiite rebels and rival Sunni militias that are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood group and its political arm, the Islah party, which is part of the government.

SANAA, Yemen — Clashes in Yemen between Shiite rebels and Islamist tribesmen killed 40 people over two days in the country's north, local security officials and tribal leaders said Saturday.

The combat took place in al-Jawf province, where Hawthi rebels fought tribesmen who are backed by an army unit and allied with the Muslim Brotherhood's Islah party.

The officials said 18 of the Hawthis and 22 of the tribesmen were killed in the battle and dozens on both sides were wounded.

Tribesmen have managed to take control of Hawthi positions some 175 kilometers (109 miles) east of the capital Sanaa, the officials added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

The Hawthis have been camping for nearly three weeks in the capital near key installations, calling for the government's removal and the reinstatement of fuel subsidies.

In a bid to end the standoff between the government and Hawthis, the Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi dismissed his Cabinet on Tuesday and said he would appoint a new prime minister within a week.

The move did not stop the rebels' escalation, however. Demonstrations continued on Wednesday and protesters blocked major roads.

The Hawthis had waged a six-year insurgency in the north against Saleh which officially ended in 2010. After Saleh's ouster, they fought ultraconservative Islamists in several northern cities and towns, accusing them of turning their strongholds into incubators of extremism.