Yemen: Houthi militants seize presidential palace in 'coup'

Published January 20th, 2015 - 10:25 GMT

Houthi rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, stormed the presidential palace Tuesday in what effectively is a coup of the government.

A spokeswoman for the president's office, Nadia Sakkaf, told CNN on Tuesday the taking of the palace was "the completion of a coup," adding "the president has no control." The home of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in another part of the city, was also shelled; although he was at home at the time, he was reported unharmed.

Clashes in the capital killed nine and injured 67 Monday before an evening ceasefire was declared, the Yemeni Health Ministry announced. The rebels, who seized the presidential palace, according to Yemeni state television and the official SABA news agency, are Houthis, Shiite Muslims who regard themselves as marginalized by Yemen's Sunni government.

Shots were also fired at a U.S. Embassy vehicle earlier Tuesday, the embassy reported.

The unidentified shooters first fired into the air, then at a vehicle in which U.S. diplomatic staff rode at a nearby checkpoint, an embassy statement said, adding that no one was injured. The incident comes as Yemen, thus far a key U.S. ally in the conflict with al-Qaida, is a battleground between government and rebel forces.

The U.S. State Department told NBC News on Monday that there are no plans to evacuate the embassy in Sanaa, and military officials added there was no imminent threat to those within the embassy.

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