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Houthi militia disperse Sanaa protest, abduct journalists

Shiite militants take two photographers to an undisclosed location, smash their cameras as parliament postpones meeting
Yemeni protestors gather at Change Square during a rally against the Shiite Houthi militia in the capital Sanaa, Yemen on 24 January, 2015 (AA)

Militants from the Shiite Houthi militia group on Sunday forcefully dispersed an "anti-coup" protest in capital Sanaa, abducting two photographers and several protesters.

The militants took the photographers - smashing their cameras - and protesters to an undisclosed location, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent and witnesses.

The Shiite militia fired warning shots Sunday to disperse the protest against their takeover of the Yemeni capital that has plunged the country into turmoil, witnesses said.

Several of the protesters who had gathered near Sanaa University were wounded, the witnesses said.

The militants were seen chasing protesters in the streets around al-Taghyeer (Change) Square in Sanaa, where the protest was to be launched. Activist Mahmoud Yassin later told Anadolu Agency by phone that the Houthis had released 18 out of a total of 24 people they had detained.

Earlier Sunday, activists gathered near the square to protest what they describe as a Houthi coup against President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Hadi tendered his resignation to parliament on Thursday shortly after Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and his government quit to protest the Shiite militants' takeover of the capital.

Houthi militants deployed heavily around the university to prevent any new protests. 

Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa on Saturday in the biggest protest yet against the Houthis.

The crisis in the Arabian Peninsula country escalated on January 17 when the Houthis seized Hadi's chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, in an apparent bid to extract changes to a draft constitution they oppose.

Last week, Sanaa was rocked by deadly clashes between Houthi militants and presidential guards amid an apparent push by the Shiite militants to consolidate their control over the country.

Meanwhile, Yemen's parliament on Sunday again postponed an extraordinary session which had been due to discuss President Hadi's resignation.

Parliament "has decided to postpone an emergency meeting set to take place on Sunday... to another date which will be decided later to make sure all members are informed to attend," reported the state news agency Saba, which has now come under the Houthi militia's control.

Parliamentary sources who declined to be named told AA that the postponement of the session is intended to make room for further negotiations among all factions to reach a political solution.

Meanwhile, Houthi militants on Sunday besieged the Yemeni Air Force headquarters in Sanaa and barred its commander Rashid al-Jund from entering the premises, a military source told AA.

The Houthis seized control of Sanaa in September before moving on to establish control over other parts of the country.

The rise of the Houthis has pitted the Shiite group against local Sunni tribes.

Yemen has remained in the throes of turmoil since President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in 2012 under pressure from a months-long popular uprising against his 33-year rule.

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