Yemen Houthi militia clash with army, fire on PM’s convoy

JANUARY 19, 2015 (REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON) Shiite militia clashed with Yemen’s army and fired on a convoy carrying the prime minister Monday as pressure mounted on the embattled government of President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

The militiamen, known as Houthis, opened fire on the convoy carrying Prime Minister Khalid Bahah in the capital Sanaa but he escaped unharmed, Information Minister Nadia Sakkaf said.

The alleged attack came after fierce clashes broke out near the presidential palace early Monday and following a meeting with Hadi at his residence in western Sanaa.

The U.S.-backed leader’s chief of staff was abducted Saturday as the Houthis press for concessions in the writing of a new constitution.

The president’s office issued a statement calling for an “immediate cease-fire” but fighting continued.

Yemen has been wracked by unrest since the Houthis seized control of Sanaa in September, raising fears the strategically important country bordering Saudi Arabia could collapse into a failed state.

Shelling and gunfire could be heard as smoke rose over parts of the city, and residents fled many neighborhoods.