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Video Shows Yemen's 'Step Toward a Coup' in Fierce Fighting Between Rebel and Government Forces

Houthi rebels clashed with government soldiers in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa this morning and reportedly seized the country's media, just hours after a ceasefire was declared.
Image via AP/Hani Mohammed

Rebel Houthi forces today clashed with government soldiers near the presidential palace in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, and apparently grabbed control of the country's state-run media, amid conflicting claims.

Just hours after Yemen's Information Minister, Nadia Sakkaf, announced that a ceasefire had been reached, Houthi insurgents and government troops again started fighting, with heavy shelling and gunfire across the city. Sakkaf said that Yemen state television and news agency had been captured, and described the developments as "a step toward a coup." This was reportedly denied by a senior Houthi official.


After hours of clashes, another truce was reached between the Houthi fighters and government forces, according to reports from state-run TV and Interior Minister Jalal al-Roweishan.

'Yemen: A Failed State.' Watch the VICE News documentary here.

???…?? ?????? ?????? ?…? ??? ??????? ????…??? ?? — Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin)January 19, 2015

Somebody is bombarding hill next to me on 50M road. Hill controlled by Houthis. — Hisham Al-Omeisy (@omeisy)January 19, 2015

In the morning, Sakkaf had claimed on her Twitter account that a convoy carrying the Yemeni Prime Minister, Khaled Bahah, came under fire from Houthi rebels. Bahah had apparently been on his way back from a meeting with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and a Houthi advisor, where they had been discussing measures to implement a "sustainable ceasefire." Sakkaf said the prime minister was unhurt.

The minister also said that Houthi vehicles were targeted along with the government's convoy, which she suggested meant a third party is also involved with the conflict.

BreakingNews:Houthi convoy targeted in heavy shooting in 60 meters road as they leave meeting w president.seize fire not happening yet

— Nadia Sakkaf (@NadiaSakkaf)January 19, 2015

Both PrimeMinister's and Houthis convoys targeted by heavy shooting which means there is a third party who is benefiting from the chaos

— Nadia Sakkaf (@NadiaSakkaf)January 19, 2015


Videos have also emerged which capture the intense mortar fire and smoke submerging the palace building. Today's street conflicts have reportedly left at least two people dead and 14 more wounded.

What do the protesting Houthis really want in Yemen? Read more here.

Footage on Facebook shows people, many of whom are carrying guns, running away from the sustained shooting. Government officials have urged Sanaa residents to stay inside their homes.

The Houthi TV channel al-Maseera reported that the government's soldiers opened fire on a rebel patrol near the presidential palace, and said this was the reason for the outbreak of violence.

Yemeni civilians expressed their anguish and alarm at the fighting on social media, with one posting: "the only solution is President Hadi resigning immediately."

Clashes spread in — Haykal Bafana (@BaFana3)January 19, 2015

The mountain in the right side is Presidential site,small hill at the left is one site of hothis+sites behind myself! — Khalid Ahmed Alradhi (@alradhi_)January 19, 2015

Today's violence comes a day after President Hadi chaired a meeting where he demanded the army protect Sanaa, SABA reported. Tensions were already high after the rebels abducted the president's chief of staff on Saturday.

Follow Maddie Smith on Twitter: @mddiesmith