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SANAA (Reuters) - A Yemeni court sentenced to death on Tuesday 10 members of a Shi'ite insurgency movement in the north that has displaced tens of thousands and raised doubts about the government's grip in the region.
The court jailed six others for 15 years in one of a series of trials of members of the rebellion in northern provinces by Zaidi Shi'ite Muslims known as Houthis after their religious and clan leaders.
The trials are of men captured during a month-long fight at Bani Husheish only 30 km (19 miles) north of the capital Sanaa last year. Two others were sentenced to death last week.
Upon sentencing the men shouted the Houthi slogan "God is great, death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory to Islam."
They were found guilty of belonging to a "terrorist organisation," the first time Yemeni courts have convicted Houthis on a charge usually reserved for al Qaeda militants.
The Zaidis first took up arms against the rule of veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2004, citing political, economic and religious marginalisation by the Saudi- and Western-backed government.
But the conflict intensified in August when the army unleashed Operation Scorched Earth. Aid groups, who have been given limited access to the northern provinces, say up to 150,000 people have fled their homes since 2004.
Saleh, who also faces a separatist movement in the south, said last week the army would crush the uprising "within days." Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia fears instability in Yemen will help al Qaeda launch more attacks there.
The Shi'ite rebels accused Saudi forces on Monday of firing into a northern border town in support of the Yemeni army's operations. The government denied the report.
Both the government and Houthis reported heavy fighting on Monday and Tuesday at Razeh near the Saudi border.
(Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari; Writing by Andrew Hammond))

Reuters