SANAA, Yemen (AP) – Three bombs exploded near the homes of Yemeni Shi’ite rebel leaders in Sanaa on Monday, security officials said, a day after the president named a new chief of staff of the armed forces.
The explosions damaged several houses and injured eight people, whose identities have not been disclosed, the officials said, adding that authorities had dismantled five other bombs also found in the capital.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to brief the media.
The Shi’ite rebels, known as Houthis, have spent months battling both local al-Qaeda militants and Sunni tribesmen backed by the Islah Party.
In September, they seized control of much of the capital and several other cities and towns.
Opponents of the Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi branch of Shi’ite Islam, accuse them of being a proxy for Shi’ite powerhouse Iran. Houthis are allied with deposed Yemeni Leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, who the United Nations has put on a sanctions list, along with two Shi’ite leaders, for destabilising the country.
In the wake of the Shi’ites’ power grab, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi removed military Chief of Staff Ahmed Ali al-Ashwal on Sunday and replaced him with Hussein Nagi Khairan, a former naval commander from the remote Socotra island. He then appointed al-Ashwal to the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament.
The move comes as part of the implementation of a UN brokered peace deal aimed at defusing Yemen’s political crisis since the Houthis entered the capital. The deal listed several steps, including the formation of a new government in exchange for a Houthi withdrawal from the capital.