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Jemen Sanaa Autobombe vor Polizeiakademie 07.01.2014
Sanaa has seen frequent fighting in recent months, like this car bomb earlier this month targeting the police academyImage: Reuters/K. Abdullah

Yemen army, Houthis rebels clash

January 19, 2015

Yemeni soldiers and Houthi rebels, already in control of much of the country, have traded fire outside the presidential palace in Sanaa. It was not immediately clear whether President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was inside.


Houthi rebels fought government soldiers near Yemen's presidential palace on Monday morning, witnesses said.

Gunfire and explosions were heard across the city and near the president's home. Civilians were said to have fled and the status of the president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was unclear, according to the AP news agency.

The Houthis, who want more rights for the country's Zaydi Shiite Muslim sect, seized the capital, Sanaa, in September last year. They have since advanced into the predominantly Sunni central and western parts of the country.

The Houthi militia, known as Ansarullah, were understood to have posted reinforcements near the palace, which has remained under the control of the presidential guard since the takeover.

Jemen Politiker Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak entführt
Presidential office director Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak was seized by the Houthis at the weekendImage: picture alliance/dpa/Yahya Arhab

On Saturday, the Houthi rebels pulled out of a meeting with political and regional leaders from across the country that was aimed at drafting a new constitution. The group was reported to have seized presidential office director Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak, to stop him attending.

Under a deal signed in September, the Houthi had agreed to withdraw from the capital and the formation of a unity government. Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, and the Houthis are often portrayed as allies to Shiite Iran in its regional power struggle with the Saudis. The kingdom has suspended most of its financial aid to Yemen since the September takeover of Sanaa.

President Hadi came to power in Yemen in 2012, following the 2011 Arab Spring protests that toppled his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

msh/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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