Last updated: 28 September, 2014

Yemenis stage first protest against rebels ruling Sanaa

Hundreds of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa Sunday to demand the withdrawal of Shiite rebels, in a first protest against the insurgents since they overran the capital last week.

In eastern Yemen, meanwhile, a suicide bombing struck a hospital used by the rebels, tribal sources said, without giving a casualty toll.

Protesters from the February 11 Revolution movement marched along the main Zubairi road in Sanaa chanting slogans against the Huthi rebels who remain in control of most of the city.

“We don’t want Huthis any more,” shouted the demonstrators, whose movement was behind the 2011 uprising which ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Huthi rebels are heavily deployed across Sanaa but there were no reports of confrontations between the insurgents and Sunday’s demonstrators.

The rebels swept down from their stronghold in the rugged northwestern mountains last month, demanding economic and political reforms.

Last week, they seized key state installations without resistance, most of them in northern Sanaa, after clashes on the city’s outskirts with Islamists killed more than 270 people.

The demonstrators on Sunday put out a statement demanding the “withdrawal of all armed militias from the capital and the return of security forces”.

They also urged the Huthi rebels to “apologise to the Yemeni people” and implement a UN-brokered peace accord, including a security protocol that stipulated their withdrawal from Sanaa once a new prime minister is named.

However, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has failed so far to name a new premier as stipulated by the agreement.

After initial hesitation, the rebels signed the security protocol, state and rebel media said on Saturday.

In Mazjar, a town in the eastern province of Marib, the entrance of a small hospital used by the Shiite rebels was targeted by a suicide car bombing on Sunday, tribal sources said.

Ansar al-Sharia, a group linked to Al-Qaeda, said on Twitter that it carried out the attack which had caused “dozens” of casualties.

It also claimed responsibility for an ambush on the army in Shabwa province that had left three dead and five wounded, although there was no independent confirmation of either toll.

Also known as Ansarullah, the Shiite rebels now in Sanaa have battled the government for years, complaining of marginalisation.

Yemeni authorities accuse Iran of backing the rebels, who also appear influenced by Lebanon’s powerful Tehran-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah.