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31 Killed in Fighting Overnight Despite Yemen Cease-fire

Soldiers loyal to Yemen's government search for landmines left by the Houthi rebels next to destroyed transmission towers in the Mas area, of Marib, Dec. 26, 2015.

Overnight fighting between Yemen's Shi'ite rebels and pro-government forces in the southwestern Taiz province killed 31 people, including eight civilians, Yemeni officials said Saturday.

The rebels, known as Houthis, also blocked the flow of humanitarian aid to the provincial capital of Taiz, which is in government hands, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. The officials remain neutral in the conflict that has torn Yemen apart.

The Houthis have been besieging Taiz for months and have prevented the delivery of essential aid to the war-ravaged city for months.

Yemen's conflict pits the country's internationally recognized government and the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis, who are allied with Yemen's longtime former president.

Fired on presidential palace

Also Saturday, Houthi officials in the central Marib province said they fired a rocket at the presidential palace there that is being used as a military encampment by anti-rebel forces. They claimed the projectile killed several senior coalition officials there.

The Associated Press could not independently verify the claim and there was no immediate word from independent or coalition officials on any casualties in Marib.

Residents in the area said they heard the sound of an explosion coming from the palace, and that a fire had erupted in the building. They spoke on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals.