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Blast hits Republican Palace in Yemen capital

The explosion followed an announcement on Saturday in which the Houthis formed a ‘security commission’

Published: Updated:

An explosion outside the presidential palace in Yemen’s Sanaa on Saturday wounded three Houthi militiamen guarding the residence, Reuters news agency reported.

The explosion followed an announcement on Saturday in which the Houthis formed a “security commission,” including former ministers, a day after its takeover which opponents denounced as a “coup.”

Also on Saturday, members of the militia kidnapped 17 activists who have taken part in demonstrations opposing the group, the Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

The Houthis said the defence and interior ministers, who attended the gathering in which the group issued its decrees, in the government of outgoing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi were among the 18 members of the security commission.

The security commission “will lead the country’s affairs until the establishment of a presidential council,” said the statement published Saturday by the official Saba news agency, which the Houthis seized in January.

It said the commission would be chaired by General Mahmud al-Subaihi, defense minister in the government of Hadi, who offered to resign on January 22 under the pressure from the Houthis.

But his appointment and his presence alongside Houthi leaders when they announced their takeover on Friday was met with distrust from his entourage, considered close to Hadi.

The head of his cabinet, Abdel Aziz Mansour, suggested the general had been “compelled by force to appear alongside” the Houthis.

“We lost contact with him and we are concerned for his life,” he told AFP.

Separately, the United Nations Security Council said in a statement on Friday it was gravely concerned after Yemen’s powerful Houthi rebels dissolved parliament on Friday, establishing an interim council, Reuters news agency reported.

“The members of the Security Council declare their readiness to take further steps if U.N.-led negotiations are not immediately resumed,” Chinese U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters. China is president of the council for February.

The 15-nation council also called for the immediate release of Yemen’s president, prime minister and cabinet from house arrest.

Houthi rebels seized power in Yemen and dissolved the country’s parliament as they announced a series of constitutional decrees drafted by the powerful shiite militia, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

One of the decrees mandated the establishment of a transitional national council that would replace Yemen's parliament. Supporters convening in the capital Sanaa also announced that that the new body would be tasked with electing a presidential council.

An amended version of an already drafted constitution will be put to a vote, supporters and members of the Shiite militias told a gathering in Sanaa.

The rebels, backed by Iran and influential members of the former regime of President Abdullah Saleh, have also set a two-year period in which the transition of power would be complete, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

The Houthi rebels also announced the formation of a so-called “supreme revolutionary committee” to appoint local committees that will administer local provincial affairs.

The decrees have been met with resistance from a number of factions in Yemen. Activists accused political parties and Jamal Benomar, the United Nations Special Adviser on Yemen, of colluding with the Houthi rebels, the Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

In the southern city of Taiz, protestors gathered to denounce the Houthi takeover and Yemen’s Council of Revolutionary Youth refused to accept the decrees and called to resist it.

The U.S. State Department has condemned the Houthi move to dissolve the parliament, spokeswoman Marie Harf said, but added that Washington will continue to work with Yemen's counterterrorism forces.