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Yemenis stage fresh anti-Houthi militia rallies

Protesters carry photos of activists who they say were abducted or tortured by the Houthis following the Shiite militia's power grab
Yemenis stage a protest against Shiite Houthi militia taking control of the government and occupying a number of Yemeni cities, on 18 February, 2015 in Al Hudaydah, Yemen (AA)

Opponents of Yemen's Houthi militia staged demonstrations in capital Sanaa on Wednesday to denounce the Shiite group's de facto takeover of the government.

Protesters marched down a number of streets in Sanaa, shouting slogans such as "Freedom, freedom" and "Down with all militias."

Protesters also held photos of anti-Houthi activists who they say were abducted or tortured by the Shiite group.

Houthi militants attempted to prevent protesters from marching on Al-Zubairi Street, the demonstration's starting point. Protesters, however, eventually reached their destination via side streets.

Protesters also decried the killing of Saleh al-Bishri, a 35-year-old father of seven who died after being tortured by Houthi militants who abducted him from a 11 Feberuary protest in Sanaa, according to a recent report by Amnesty International.

Thousands demonstrated last Wednesday in Sanaa to mark the passage of four years since the uprising that toppled President Ali Abdullah Saleh and to reject the Houthis' recent takeover of the capital.

Yemen's popular uprising began in February 2011, eventually forcing Saleh to step down – after 33 years in power – in early 2012.

Earlier this month, the Houthi leadership issued a "constitutional declaration" dissolving parliament and establishing a 551-member "transitional council" to run the country's affairs.

The declaration, however, was rejected by most Yemeni political forces – along with some neighbouring countries – which described it as a "coup against constitutional legitimacy."

Late last September, the Houthis seized control of Sanaa and have since sought to expand their influence to other provinces farther afield.