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Six explosions rock Yemen's capital, fighting set to intensify

Houthi rebels shelled by government forces near to President Hadi's residence in the capital Sana'a
Yemen security forces check cars on the way into the capital Sana'a on Tuesday (AA)

The outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sana’a saw fierce fighting overnight on Tuesday and into Wednesday, in the biggest military escalation since the Houthi rebellion began in late August.

There are indications that fighting in the area is expected to intensify during the day on Wednesday. Yemeni journalist Sadeq al-Wesabi reported that residents living nearby the sites shelled overnight had been ordered by loudspeakers to evacuate the area.

Intense shelling hit Shamlan, an area just seven kilometres north-west of central Sana’a, with government forces launching airstrikes to check the advance of Houthi rebels towards sites controlled by their foes in the Islah movement.

There has as yet been no comment from government officials or Houthi spokespeople regarding the intense shelling overnight. 

The first explosion happened at 02:00 local time (23:00 GMT), and was followed by five others throughout the night.

Local residents told Yemeni news site al-Masdar that fighting had broken out on the ground in Shamlan just after the airstrikes, which according to the site’s sources were launched by the previously dissolved First Armoured Division led by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.

Local news sources were unable to verify the amount of casualties from the six explosions and the subsequent fighting, which hit just a few kilometres from President Mansour Hadi’s residence, as well as from Yemen’s famous rock palace, Dar al-Hajjar, one of the country’s main tourist attractions.

However, unverified images circulated on social media claiming to show the bodies of at least two soldiers killed in the shelling.

Houthis had seized control of the northern areas of Shamlan on Tuesday, after bloody battles that killed ten people, among them two civilians, Houthi rebels and soldiers allied to the Yemeni army.

The battles follow a further escalation by Houthis in central Sana’a, who on Monday night erected a fifth encampment on the north-eastern entrance to the capital, close to Shamlan.

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