Rebel group blocks main roads in Yemen

September 3, 2014 - 6:34 AM
Mideast Yemen

In this photo provided by Yemen's Defense Ministry, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, left, speaks to members of the government and the parliament during a meeting in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. The Yemeni president on Tuesday dismissed the Cabinet including the prime minister who led it for two years, while partially reversing an earlier decision to lift fuel subsidies in a bid to end a standoff with Shiite rebels holding anti-government protests across the country. (AP Photo/Yemen's Defense Ministry)

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Dozens of supporters of a Shiite rebel group demanding the reinstatement of fuel subsidies blocked major roadways in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Wednesday in an escalation of their standoff with the government.

Supporters of the group, known as the Hawthis, brandished arms and batons while using tires and cement blocks to divert traffic from main roads, including a boulevard that leads to government buildings and state institutions. Government tanks were positioned in front of the parliament and TV buildings.

The disruption of traffic comes a day after Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi dismissed the Cabinet and announced a reduction of fuel prices in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

The Hawthis waged a six-year insurgency that officially ended in 2010. The following year, an Arab Spring-inspired uprising shook the country, eventually forcing longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down as part of a U.S.-backed deal giving him immunity from prosecution.

Yemen, one of the Arab world's poorest nations, is facing multiple challenges. In addition to the Hawthi rebels, an al-Qaida branch in the south poses a major threat as it tries to impose control over cities and towns.