Airlines suspend flights to Yemeni capital as security worsens

September 19, 2014 10:27 am 

SANAA, Sept. 19 — Foreign airlines suspended flights to Sanaa International Airport for 24 hours due to conflicts between the army and Shiite Houthi rebels in the Yemeni capital, the official Saba news agency reported Thursday night.

"The foreign airlines decided to suspend flights to Sanaa for 24 hours due to the development in the capital," Saba quoted the civil aviation authority as saying.

The airlines will review their decision on Friday on whether or not to resume flights based on the security situation in Sanaa, it added.

Security situation deteriorated in Sanaa on Thursday night as the Shiite Houthi rebels advanced into the Yemeni capital after they clashed with the army in the city's northwest outskirts for about three days.

The rebels fired rockets towards the Yemeni TV station in northern Sanaa on Thursday night, the latest in an escalating conflict between the government and Houthi rebels, security sources told Xinhua.

The state-run TV station which locates on a hill on the side of a main road leading to Sanaa International Airport was under heavy gunfire, the sources said, adding that the army had deployed reinforcement including several tanks to protect the TV station. No casualties have been mentioned.

The Yemeni TV reported that "the Shiite Houthi armed rebels attacked the TV building with shells, in another armed escalation in the capital Sanaa."

Witnesses said smoke rising from the building in the TV station, which called for help during its live broadcast.

Powerful explosions rocked the area which is also near Iman University, run by Sunni Islah Party, and barracks of the 1st Armored Division. The Shiite rebels have surrounded the two sites and clashed with the army soldiers there, leaving more than 50 people killed in the past two days.

On Wednesday, clashes between the army and Shiite Houthi rebels in Sanaa have left at least 20 soldiers killed.

The deadly clashes broke out as negotiations between the Sunni- dominated government and the Shiite Houthi group run into deadlock after the rebels walked away from talks aiming for a solution to end the crisis on Monday, citing "foreign intervention."

Tens of thousands of supporters of the Houthi group rallied in Sanaa since early August, demanding the government to resume fuel subsidies and the resignation of the cabinet. The protesters also set up sit-in tents around several ministries. Meanwhile, the Houthi group also mobilized thousands of armed fighters at entry points to Sanaa. (PNA/Xinhua)

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