Houthis Fire Missiles on Yemen State TV

Houthis Fire Missiles  on Yemen State TVHouthis Fire Missiles  on Yemen State TV

Houthi fighters in Yemen shelled the country's state television in Sanaa on Friday and hundreds of residents were fleeing the capital fearing an escalation of violence after weeks of fighting and protests, local officials said.

They pushed into the capital Sanaa after clashing with the army on the northwestern outskirts on Thursday and residents of northwest al-Shamlan district said the rebels were advancing along Thalatheen Street, a major route into the western edge of Sanaa.

The Houthis fired missiles on Yemen television channel building in Sanaa on Thursday night and the state-owned channel said the shelling continued on Friday morning, according to Reuters.

"The Houthi group is continuing to shell the television building with all kinds of weapons until this moment," the channel said in a news alert on its screen.

Hundreds of residents were rushing to flee the capital and the neighborhoods where the fighting was taking place.

> Flights Halted Amid Fighting

Meanwhile, foreign airlines halted flights to the main international airport in the Sanaa because of heavy fighting in the Yemeni capital, the state civil aviation authority said Friday.

In a statement carried on the state news agency SABA early Friday, the civil aviation authority said foreign airlines suspended flights to Sanaa airport for 24 hours, after which they will review the security situation, AP reported.

Battles erupted a day earlier between the Houthis and gunmen loyal to the Islah party, the Muslim Brotherhood's branch in Yemen. The two sides fought in Shamlan, a suburb of Sanaa.

The Houthis  have emerged as a powerful new player in the chronically unstable, impoverished nation. Over the past months, their fighters have scored a string of victories in the north, defeating hardline militias, bringing them the doorstep of Sanaa.

In the capital, they have led a campaign of street protests calling for the replacement of the government and economic reforms. One of their protest camps is set up on the main road leading to the airport.

There is also a growing separatist movement in the south, a region that once constituted an independent state before it merged with northern Yemen.