SANAA (dpa) – At least two people were killed on Saturday when Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels attempted to storm the house of the secret service chief in the capital Sana’a, a local official said.
The attack on the house of Ali al-Ahmadi, the head of the National Security Agency, in southern Sanaa triggered clashes between the rebels and bodyguards, leaving two dead – a Houthi insurgent and a security guard, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The attack was the second in less than a week by the rebels on the house of al-Ahmadi, whom the Houthis accuse of involvement in killing dozens of their followers during a protest rally nearly a year ago, according to Yemeni media.
However, a spokesman for the Houthis denied that the rebels tried Saturday to storm al-Ahmadi’s house.
“An exchange of fire occurred after bodyguards of al-Ahmadi barred one of our patrols from using a road near his house,” Ali al-Emad, told dpa. “It was a mere misunderstanding.”
Last week, the Houthis seized a string of key state institutions in Sana’a after days of deadly clashes against Sunni rivals backed by army troops, triggering fears of a larger sectarian unrest in the Arabian Peninsula country.
The rebels have ignored a call made earlier this week by President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi to withdraw from Sana’a. The two sides signed a UN-brokered peace deal on September 21.
The Houthis have expanded from the remote northern province of Saada near the Saudi border to the outskirts of Sana’a since January.
Opponents have accused the Houthis of seeking to reinstall the hereditary Zaidi imams – who were toppled by a republican revolution in northern Yemen in 1962 – with the support of Iran.
Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, also faces a secessionist movement in the south as well as an al-Qaeda insurgency.