rebels shell Yemen state TV, residents flee fighting

SHAFAQNA –  Armed Shi’ite rebels shelled Yemen’s state television in Sanaa on Friday and hundreds of residents were fleeing the capital fearing an escalation of violence after weeks of fighting and protests, local officials said.

Shi’ite Houthi gunmen pushed into the capital Sanaa after clashing with the army on the northwestern outskirts on Thursday and residents of northwest al-Shamlan district said the rebels were advancing along Thalatheen Street, a major route into the western edge of Sanaa.

The Houthis fired missiles on Yemen television channel building in Sanaa on Thursday night and the state-owned channel said the shelling continued on Friday morning.

“The Houthi group is continuing to shell the television building with all kinds of weapons until this moment,” the channel said in a news alert on its screen.

Hundreds of residents were rushing to flee the capital and the neighbourhoods where the fighting was taking place.

“The shells fell on the house next door so I took my wife and kids and went towards the south of the capital. We left everything behind,” one resident told Reuters.

In recent weeks, Houthi protesters have been blocking the main road to Sanaa’s airport and holding 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.

At least 42 people have also been killed in clashes involving Houthi fighters in different parts of the country since Tuesday. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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