Houthis seize Yemeni state TV, news agency

Houthi fighters take up position on a street during clashes near the Presidential Palace in Sanaa January 19, 2015.

Houthi fighters take up position on a street during clashes near the Presidential Palace in Sanaa January 19, 2015.

Houthi rebels took over Yemen’s state television and news agency on Monday, the country’s information minister said calling it a step towards a coup, the Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

This follows a ceasefire reached earlier on Monday after clashes between state forces and the Shiite rebels killed at least two people and wounded 14 others, a medical source told Agence France-Presse.

The source at the Quds Military Hospital said the 14 wounded and the bodies of the two dead had been brought to the facility close to the presidential palace in southern Sanaa, where the clashes erupted on Monday

Although a Houthi official confirmed state television reports of a ceasefire, the Yemeni prime minister’s convoy came under heavy gunfire from the rebels after meeting with President Hadi and a Houthi official, Reuters news agency reported citing the country’s information minister.

The PM was unhurt, the minister added.

Hadi said he would meet a number of his advisers including Houthi officials to discuss political and constitutional issues, the Houthi official, Ali al-Imad, told Reuters.

Gunfire was heard across the city Monday morning and within close proximity to the president’s residence. Additionally, the rebels stormed houses adjacent to the president’s home, the Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

The clashes came after leaders from the southern Yemini provinces gave Houthis late Saturday a 24-hour ultimatum to release the president’s chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak.

The governor of Yemen’s Shabwa province warned Sunday that oil companies will turn off their taps at midnight unless Shiite militiamen in control of the capital free a presidency official.

Mubarak, who was kidnapped on Saturday by the Shiite Huthi militias who control Sanaa, is from the southern province of Shabwa in deeply-tribal Yemen.

The Houthis, who demand more rights for the country’s Zaydi Shiite Mslim sect, seized Sanaa in September and advanced into central and western parts of the country where Sunnis predominate.


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