An improvised bomb exploded outside the republican palace in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Saturday and wounded three Shi’ite Muslim militiamen guarding it, eyewitnesses said.
The attack came a day after the Houthi Shi’ite militant group dissolved parliament and formally took power of the impoverished and strife-town of the Arabian Peninsula country.
Once the home of the resigned Yemeni prime minister, the republican palace now houses Mohammed al-Houthi, a top official in the Iranian-backed movement’s military wing whose gunmen now hold sway over much of Yemen.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bomb. But Sunni Muslim militants in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have repeatedly bombed and clashed with the Houthis, raising fears that their takeover might stoke an all-out sectarian war.
Also on Saturday morning, Houthi gunmen fired in the air to disperse dozens of people protesting against the movement’s actions near Sanaa’s main university.
The Houthis entered Sanaa in September and began to fan out into more cities in Yemen’s south and west. Armed Houthi personnel were out in force after their Friday announcement, manning checkpoints around key government buildings.