MOSCOW, January 19 (Sputnik) — Yemeni armed forces are fighting with Shiite Houthi insurgents outside the presidential palace in the country's capital Sanaa, media reported Monday, citing witnesses.
The Al Arabiya news channel and several news agencies reported gunfire within close proximity to the residence of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the rebel-controlled city.
The fighting came two days after Houthi fighters kidnapped President Hadi's chief of staff Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak and two of his guards. Investigators suspect the Houthis, who had opposed Ahmed Mubarak's nomination for prime minister, to be behind the abduction.
The Houthis are the main opposition movement in Yemen, and played a major role in ousting the country's former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012. The group staged large-scale protests and occupied a number of cities in 2014, demanding the resignation of the government, which they say is corrupt and has marginalized the Shiite community.
In September 2014, the Houthi insurgency spread over to Yemen's capital Sanaa, and from there militia have advanced into central and western parts of the country.