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Saudi Arabia set to raze empty villages on Yemen border

Riyadh said to commence demolition of 96 communities in effort to create buffer zone against Houthi insurgents

A Yemeni boy walks past the rubble of destroyed houses in the village of Bani Matar, 70 kilometers (43 miles) West of Sanaa, on April 4, 2015, a day after it was reportedly hit by an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition against Shiite Houthi rebel positions. (photo credit: AFP/Mohammed Huwais)
A Yemeni boy walks past the rubble of destroyed houses in the village of Bani Matar, 70 kilometers (43 miles) West of Sanaa, on April 4, 2015, a day after it was reportedly hit by an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition against Shiite Houthi rebel positions. (photo credit: AFP/Mohammed Huwais)

RIYADH, Saudi, Arabia — Saudi Arabia will raze 96 deserted border villages to prevent their use by infiltrators from neighboring Yemen, where the kingdom is leading air strikes on rebels, a report said Sunday.

Ten villages have already been demolished since a Saudi-led military coalition began air strikes on Shiite Houthi rebels on March 26, the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

It cited the border guard chief in the area, Hassan Aqili, as saying that the move was to prevent the empty houses from turning into “a safe haven for traffickers and infiltrators”.

The 15,000 inhabitants were resettled following a 2009-2010 conflict that saw Houthi rebels cross into Saudi Arabia from their stronghold in northern Yemen.

The same rebels forced Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee the country to Saudi Arabia last month as they swept towards his southern refuge in Aden after seizing power in the capital.

Three Saudi border guards have been shot dead by gunfire from within Yemen since Riyadh launched air raids against the Iran-backed rebels.

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