Yemen closes port as rebels guard presidential palace

2015-01-21 20:19
A Yemeni soldier carries his weapon as the army blocks streets around the presidential palace in the capital Sanaa during fierce clashes between the presidential guard and members of the Shiite Huthi movement. (Mohammed Huwais, AFP)

A Yemeni soldier carries his weapon as the army blocks streets around the presidential palace in the capital Sanaa during fierce clashes between the presidential guard and members of the Shiite Huthi movement. (Mohammed Huwais, AFP)

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Sana’a - Officials supporting Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi on Wednesday closed the country's main port in the southern city of Aden, as Houthi rebels stood guard outside Hadi's Sana'a residence a day after seizing the presidential palace.

Houthi Politburo member Mahmoud al-Junaidi told dpa that the internationally-backed leader was inside his residence and had met his advisors - who include Houthi representatives - there the evening before.

The airport in Aden - Yemen's second city and the capital of the formerly independent south, from which Hadi hails - was also closed.

Paramilitary fighters from other southern provinces were reported to be heading to the city to close road crossings between the south and the rest of the country.

A security official in Aden told dpa that the closures were a "response to the coup against the legitimacy of President Hadi" and would continue "until matters are resolved in Sana'a”.

The developments came after two days of clashes in the capital that saw Houthi fighters overwhelm presidential guards and take effective control of the presidential palace as well as the area around Hadi's residence.

Witnesses told dpa that only Houthi fighters were to be seen around the house in the south of the capital, with no sign of the presidential guard.

The Shiite movement's leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, on Tuesday warned Hadi to cancel a planned division of the country into six federal regions - a move which would split up northern areas where the rebels are most influential.

Al-Houthi also demanded "immediate intervention" in the oil-rich eastern province of Mareb, one of the few areas outside the south where local tribes have prevented the entry of his forces.

The Houthis, who seek to revive the Zaydi Shiite traditions of Yemen's northern highlands, have expanded across much of the country over the past year, and took effective control of Sana'a in September.

Read more on:    yemen

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