TV building on fire as clashes continue in capital
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[September 20, 2014]
By Mohammed Ghobari
SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's state-run
television building caught fire after a three-day mortar attack by
Shi'ite rebels who are protesting against the government, residents and
a TV employee said on Saturday,
After weeks of protests and clashes, the conflict intensified on
Thursday when the Shi'ite Houthi rebels clashed with the army on the
outskirts of Sanaa.
The fighting expanded mainly between the Houthis and tribesmen
allied with the al-Ahmar clan. Prominent figures from the mainly
Sunni Muslim clan, one of the most powerful tribes in Yemen, hold
senior positions in the armed forces and the government.
Part of the TV building, which is located near other vital state
institutions, caught fire after shelling intensified on Saturday
morning, the employee told Reuters, adding that hundreds were
trapped in the building as a result.
Yemeni TV broadcast a written message for national and international
organizations to intervene to save its employees from the shelling.
In a neighboring area close to the interior ministry where Houthis
have been staging a sit-in, three mortars were fired according to a
Reuters witness. It was not immediately clear who was responsible
for the shelling.
The University of Sanaa, the largest in the country, also closed on
Saturday after a mortar fell in its grounds during Friday's clashes.
Late on Friday U.N special envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar, who held
meetings with Houthi Leader Abdulmalek al-Houthi in Saada province
on Wednesday and Thursday: "expressed deep regrets regarding this
development, including the use of violence, while utmost efforts
were underway in order to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis."
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A source close to the mediation efforts said President Abd Rabbu
Mansour Hadi would meet with members of political parties today to
discuss some of the suggestions made by the Houthis to Benomar to
end the conflict.
Insecurity and political turmoil have mounted in Yemen since Arab
spring protests ousted Saleh. The Houthi insurrection is one of
several security challenges in Yemen, which borders oil exporter
Saudi Arabia and is struggling with a secessionist movement in the
south and the spread of an al Qaeda insurgency.
The Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam, have
been involved in a decade-long conflict with the Sunni-dominated
government, fighting for more control and territory in the north.
In recent weeks, Houthi protesters have blocked the main road to
Sanaa's airport and held sit-ins at ministries calling for the
ousting of the government and the restoration of subsidies cut by
the state in July as part of economic reforms.
(Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari; Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by
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