For over a thousand years, Saada, Yemen has been the historical home of Shia Zaidism, which is entirely distinct from 12er Shiism found in Iran and Iraq. The world famous Salafi Islamic Institute, Dar al-Hadith, is located in Saada, Yemen and attracts students from around the globe. It was established in 1980 by Sheik Abdal Rahman Mukbil (Hadi al-Wadi'i). Zaidism and Salafism are diametrically opposed as Zaidism is encourages re-interpretation, critical thinking, and opposing an unjust Muslim ruler. Salafi tenants hold that a Muslim ruler should not be opposed. As early as the 1980's, the founder of the Zaidi group, the Believing Youth, Hussain al-Houthi was writing tracts disputing some of the premises of Salafism (like Shia are heretics). The Believing Youth began as a study group and was encouraged by the regime as an offset to the growing influence of Salafism in Yemen. The tide shifted around the onset of the Iraq War when the group began to oppose the regime's alliance with the US, staging protests after Friday prayers. Reportedly, the regime encouraged the Believing Youth to go to fight in Iraq against American soldiers, which they refused. Armed conflict between the government and the Believing Youth began in 2004 after the government launched a series of harassments and arrests. Fighting renewed in 2005. An amnesty granted to the rebels in 2006 was never fully implemented by the regime. The current tactics employed by the Yemeni regime mirror those used in 2005: a complete blockade on the region, withholding food and medical supplies, arbitrary arrests, shelling civilian areas with mortars and rockets, aerial bombardment, the military deployment of tribesmen and jihaddists, the arrest of Shiite preachers, the forced imposition of Salafi preachers at Shiite mosques. Many Zaidi teachers have also been arbitrarily arrested. Currently about 30,000 Zaidi civilians have been forced out of their homes, often after receiving regime warnings of impending bombardment. However the Yemeni regime has made no provision for their basic needs, and many are living in the mountains. The regime prohibited the shipments of food, and has confiscated produce. No food or medicine has entered Saada for over two months. The government has cut all communications and prohibited journalists from traveling to Saada. The City of Dhahian has been destroyed from bombardment, and dead bodies lie in the streets. Air raids on Dhahian destroyed a mosque, homes and a gas station. The city of 25,000 is largely evacuated. Since onset of the war on January 17, according to Al-Ayyam there were 416 soldiers killed and over 500 wounded; 12 tanks destroyed. 136 Houthis rebels were killed. In the last week, approximately 150 more from each side killed. Government sources place figure of Houthis killed at 300, with another 200 captured. Not only are about 3000 Salafi tribesmen, child soldiers, and tried and true Sunni Jihaddists engaging in military battles in support of the Yemeni government and against the Shiite Believing Youth rebels, apparently the foreign students from the Salafi Dammaj Insititute have also taken up arms which were provided by the Yemeni government. As usual, there are at least two versions of the story. The first version is from the government's ruling party website: a French student walking down the street gets killed by rebels: almotamar.net - "Sources said the killing incident took place when students were walking in a street when some terrorist elements attacked them." The second version of the story comes from al-Estraki.net, the opposition Socialist Party's website, which says three foreign students at Dammaj were killed. The school had been provided arms by the government, and the enthusiastic students established a checkpoint. In a shootout at the checkpoint with Houthi fighters, three Dammaaj students were killled: one Frenchman, one American, and one unidentified foreigner. The third version is from the opposition Islamic party, Islah. Their newspaper, al-Sahwa says the Houthis assaulted the Dar al-Haidth school in Dammaj with one British, a French and an Algerian killed.al-Sahwa: "Local sources affirmed Monday that British and French students who were studying at Dmaj Centre for Islamic studies were killed. They also said that an Algerian was wounded in an assault that targeted the centre. The source cited that the centre was subjected to a similar assault last Wednesday in Saada by a Shiite rebel group, al-Houthi rebels." Version four, the BBC who quotes a government source: SANAA (AFP) - A French and a British student, both Muslims, were killed in an attack by Shiite rebels on a Sunni Islamic college in a restive region of Yemen, a tribal source said Monday. An Algerian student was also wounded in the attack which took place on Sunday, in the northern province of Saada, where Zaidi minority rebels are fighting government forces, the source told AFP requesting anonymity. He said that the students were part of a group who were guarding the school at night...Dozens of foreign students attend the school for Islamic studies at Dammaj, which is run by a Sunni Salafist group, the source added. The Scotsman: One French and one Yemeni killed: SANAA (Reuters) - A French student and a Yemeni man were killed and another Frenchman was wounded on Monday when Shi'ite rebels attacked an Islamic college in a volatile area in northern Yemen, a government official said. Earlier the official said two foreigners were killed in the attack. A Frenchman, identified by the official only as Patrick, was killed, and a French student of Algerian origin was wounded. The attack, in which a Yemeni man was also killed, took place in the province of Saada where government forces have been battling Shi'ite rebels since the beginning of this year. So did the students attack the Houthis at a check-point the Dammaj students created, or did the Houthis attack the institute at Dammaaj? Yemen, land of a thousand realities. Over the last years, the Houthis have restricted themselves to military targets, unlike the regime. And why is the government of Yemen arming the students at a Salafi Islamic school? Unless they were armed already.