Forces loyal to Yemen president seize parts of state’s economic hub

Country’s north dominated by Shia Muslim Houthis, who control capital city Sanaa

Forces loyal to Yemen's president said they had seized strategic buildings in the southern city of Aden on Monday after a five-hour battle, escalating a civil conflict threatening to split the country in two.

The militias supporting Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi wrested parts of Yemen's economic hub from security forces allied to the Houthi movement, including its main power station and intelligence headquarters, said sources.

The country's north is dominated by the Shia Muslim Houthis, who completed a takeover of the capital Sanaa last month. In the south, forces loyal to Hadi and separatists aiming to restore the former South Yemen appear to be in charge.

United Nations Yemen envoy Jamal Benomar tweeted on Monday that he had visited Mr Hadi, who is still under house arrest at his residence.


Mr Benomar said he had briefed Mr Hadi on the UN Security Council resolution adopted on Sunday calling for an end to his house arrest and that of his government.

The UN Security Council on Sunday urged the Houthis to quit government institutions, threatening further steps if the violence does not stop.

Minister of information Nadia al-Sakkaf tweeted that she had also visited Mr Hadi on Monday, adding he had a heart condition and was “quite ill”.

Multiparty talks

The Houthis forced Mr Hadi to resign during their takeover, but he remains de jure president. They tried to dissolve the assembly two weeks ago, but its largest group, the General People’s Congress party (GPC), objected.

The GPC said on Monday it had withdrawn its objection, boosting chances of a consensus in multiparty talks on picking a new national administration.

Violence has escalated recently, filling the political vacuum left in January when the Houthis seized the presidential palace and forced prime minister Khaled Bahah’s government to resign.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis demonstrated in several cities on Saturday against Houthi rule as clashes between Houthis and Sunnis in a southern region left 26 dead.

In clashes overnight, sources in the Popular Committees of Aden, run by Mr Hadi’s brother, Nasser, said they had also taken Aden’s television station and the administrative building of its free trade zone, with the loss of three fighters.

The Popular Committees confirmed several government buildings had been taken. Aden’s governor, Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour, confirmed the clashes but denied Hadi loyalists had taken over the television station.

“The situation is under control and what has happened is being dealt with,” a defence ministry website quoted him as saying.

Turkey became the latest country to withdraw its diplomats from Sanaa on Monday, following the closure of the embassies of the United States, major European nations and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.