The Yemeni capital, Sanaa, witnessed on Wednesday fierce clashes between Houthi fighters and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the armed groups who have together confronted a Saudi-led alliance during the past three years of war.
A statement released by Saleh’s General People’s Congress Party accused Houthi militias of being responsible for the clashes and said they were behind launching a “coup” and “disturbing a partnership” between the two sides.
The statement also said that on Wednesday, hundreds of Houthi members carrying all kinds of light and medium weapons have occupied part of the Saleh mosque, launched RPGs and hand grenades and besieged the guards.
“Houthi fighters then besieged the nearby residents and houses of Saleh’s family and party members, an action that prompted the start of fighting, leaving several killed and injured people,” the statement added.
Al-Arabiya news channel said on Wednesday that at least 15 people were killed after deadly clashes broke out on Wednesday between forces loyal to Saleh and armed groups of the Houthi militias in southern Sanaa.
It said the clashes began in the vicinity of Saleh Mosque south of the Yemeni capital, then expanded to include other areas of the capital.
Separately, sources told the German news agency that Houthi fighters broke into the Saleh mosque, considered on the biggest Yemeni mosques.
The mosque is located in the Sabeen neighborhood, which is secured by guards loyal to Saleh.
“Houthi fighters insisted to stay inside the mosque, but, were prevented by the guards, prompting clashes that killed and wounded several on both sides,” the sources said, without offering accurate information about the exact number of victims.
The sources added that the Houthi fighters had entered the mosque with the intention of staying there until next Thursday to provide security for a Houthi celebration to be held at the Sabeen Square, near the mosque.
The same sources said that tension prevailed in the capital on Wednesday.
Last August, a war of words between the two previous allies exploded into a military confrontation after Houthi fighters tried to set up a security checkpoint near the home of Saleh in Sanaa.