RIYADH — The Saudi military denied a claim by Yemen's Huthi rebels that they seized a Saudi border post, but said fighting has been heavy in the area, Saudi media reported Saturday.
Saudi newspapers citing military sources said Saudi ground forces and Apache attack helicopters had battled the Huthi fighters for two days at the Al-Jabri post on the Yemeni border in the southern province of Yemen, and repulsed attempted Huthi incursions.
The rebels of the Zaidi Shiite minority said in an Internet statement that they had seized "full control of the Al-Jabri Saudi military post," capturing weapons, communication material, military vehicles and surveillance equipment.
Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdessalam, in a telephone interview with AFP, said rebels overran the Saudi post on Wednesday and forced 200 soldiers to flee.
"The Saudis have tried, without any success, to take back Al-Jabri, and bombed it Thursday night," Abdessalam said.
But Saudi military officials rejected the claim, according to newspaper reports.
"A Huthi cannot get close to the Saudi border without either being killed or surrendering," an unnamed official told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, which is close to the government.
Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Saudi forces hit the Huthis with air strikes and artillery to push back their assault in the mountainous border region.
Meanwhile, Saudi military officials accused the Yemeni rebels of using women as human shields and of planting booby-trapped explosives in bodies, Al-Hayat said.
Saudi forces have been overtly fighting the Huthis since November 3 when the rebels killed a Saudi border guard and briefly occupied two Saudi villages.
The rebels have been forced to the border by a four-month-old campaign against them by Yemen government forces.
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