Houthi rebels opened fire Saturday to disperse a protest against the rule of the Shiite Muslim movement, wounding up to six people, witnesses said.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets in several parts of the country in a second day of nationwide demonstrations in less than a week to protest against the Houthis’ seizure of power.
"Houthi, Iran: Yemen is not Lebanon!" protesters in the city of Ibb, which the militia have held since last year, chanted in reference to the militia's alleged support from Shiite-dominated Iran.
They also shouted slogans against Russia, which is thought to be reluctant to take a hard line against the Houthis at the United Nations Security Council.
Witnesses said the Houthis fired warning shots to disperse the protest in Ibb, leaving at least six people wounded.
Activists told Reuters they were also enraged by the death on Saturday of Saleh al-Bashiri, who was detained by gunmen at an anti-Houthi protest two then later released to a hospital. His family said he died from torture wounds suffered in captivity. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis.
"Saleh Awadh al-Bashiri died at midnight, hours after he was released by the Houthi militia with two of his companions who were kidnapped by the group during Wednesday's protest," one of his relatives told AFP.
The families posted pictures on social media that they said were of their sons showing parts of their bodies bruised and swollen from alleged beatings.
The Houthis on Sunday announced a ban on all protests against them unless they are authorized by the interior ministry, which itself is now controlled by the militia.
Several news reports have accused the Shiite rebels of detaining protestors and reporters covering the events.
On Feb. 6, Houthi militias, led by Abdulmalik al-Houthi, dissolved Yemen’s government and parliament and announced a series of constitutional decrees drafted by the powerful Shiite militia. Last month, the armed rebels stormed into the presidential complex and several government buildings, forcing Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi to resign. The takeover led to further insecurity in a country already rife with insurgency.
Yemen’s upheaval has prompted several Arab and Western countries to suspend their operations at their embassies in Sanaa and evacuated their staff.
The crisis in Yemen has drawn particular international concern as it shares a long border with top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia, and the country is also fighting one of the most formidable branches of al Qaeda with the help of U.S. drone strikes.
Heavy clashes between Houthi fighters and Sunni Muslim tribesmen fighting alongside Al Qaeda militants in the southern mountainous province of al-Bayda on Saturday killed 16 Houthi rebels along with 10 Sunni tribesmen and militants, security officials and tribal sources told Reuters.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned Yemen is "collapsing before our eyes" and called for Western-backed President Abedrabuh Mansour Hadi to be restored to power.
[With AFP and Reuters]SHOW MORE