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Houthi rebels block government vehicles entry to and exit from Sanaa

September 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Yemen’s Shia Houthi insurgent group announced on Sunday evening that it had closed all entrances leading to Sanaa, blocking government vehicles from accessing the Yemeni capital in response to allegations that security forces were attacking its supporters along the Sanaa Airport Road, Anadolu news agency reported.

A member of the group’s political council, Mohammed Bukhaiti, said in an exclusive statement to Anadolu that the group’s supporters stationed outside the capital’s southern and western entrances have blocked all the roads leading to the capital, preventing government vehicles bearing military plates from entering or leaving Sanaa.

Bukhaiti declined to disclose the blockade’s duration, but stressed that this step comes in response to the Yemeni authorities’ escalation against the Houthis and their refusal of the group’s three demands, namely to: overthrow the government, annul its decision to raise fuel prices and implement the national dialogue outcomes concluded on 25 January.

The latest escalation comes less than an hour after an official from the Supreme Security Committee accused the Houthis of closing off the airport road and attacking the state’s security forces, in addition to forcing the staff of the ministries of electricity and telecommunications to leave their offices.

Yemen’s state news agency Saba quoted an official, who did not disclose his name, denying that the Yemeni security forces had opened fire on Houthi supporters and wounded a number of them, stressing that “the Houthis attacked the security forces and boarded their vehicles, taking advantage of the state and security agencies concern not to engage in any action that could harm the safety of the protestors.”

The group said at least one person was killed and 40 others wounded when the Yemeni riot police fired tear gas canisters at protesters in an attempt to open the airport road.

A spokesperson for the group, Mohamed Abdel Salam, said they hold the Yemeni government responsible for the repercussions of the state’s aggression, stressing that the people have a right to “self-defence by all means”.

The headquarters of three major ministries are located on the airport road, namely the interior, electricity and telecommunications.

A correspondent for Anadolu said Houthi protesters have erected tents in front of the electricity and telecommunications ministries, as well as along the side of the road, which is what is obstructing the traffic’s movement.

For the third consecutive week, Sanaa and other Yemeni cities have witnessed massive demonstrations and counter demonstrations, while the Shia group continues to mobilise its supporters and demand the government’s resignation.

A presidential mediation committee has so far failed to achieve any breakthrough in the crisis until now.