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Elite Yemeni troops attack Defence Ministry

A group of soldiers has attacked the Defence Ministry in Yemen according to eyewitnesses. The surprise attack was allegedly a response to the new president who has been restructuring the military.

Troops from Yemen's elite force, the Republican Guard, descended on the country's Defence Ministry in the capital city of Sanaa on Tuesday. The son of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh's allegedly led the attack, according to the news agency AFP.

Initial reports painted a picture of chaos surrounding the ambush.

"Gunshots were coming from everywhere, we don't know who is shooting at whom, the whole area is blocked," a taxi driver told Reuters news agency.

Reinforcements from Yemen's army were sent into protect and defend the area under attack.

Tuesday's attack was reportedly a direct response to the new president's recent decision to restructure the military.

President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi ordered the formation of a Presidential Protection Force last week, which was due to subsume some of the Republican Guard units. President Hadi had planned to oversee the new force himself and to place the remaining elite units under the command of other generals.

The military restructuring was part of an effort to uproot any remaining loyalists to ex-President Saleh. A popular uprising led to Saleh's resignation, but his influence over the military reportedly continues to hold strong because of familial connections. Hadi stood unopposed to replace Saleh in February elections.

kms/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpae)