According to witnesses, army troops – en route from the province to capital Sanaa – clashed with tribesmen in the Nakhlah district on the province's outskirts, leaving an indeterminate number of dead and injured on both sides.
Clashes erupted after tribesmen tried to stop army troops from using a route controlled by the Shiite Houthi group due to fears that the latter might seize arms and equipment from the troops for use against rival tribesmen, witnesses said.
The Defense Ministry has yet to comment on the reported clashes.
For the last several months, the Shiite Houthi group – which boasts thousands of diehard supporters countrywide – has been trying to step up its armed presence across fractious Yemen.
The Houthis recently emerged as a political and military power in Yemen after taking over capital Sanaa in late October, from which they have sought to extend their influence into other provinces farther afield.
The Houthis' growing power has raised fears of sectarian conflict in Yemen, which has remained in the throes of political turmoil since a 2011 popular uprising ended the decades-long rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh one year later.