India asks its citizens in Yemen to leave the war-torn country
NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday issued
an advisory asking all its nationals to leave Yemen immediately given the ‘fragile’
security situation in the conflict-hit country. “We are urging and advising our
nationals to leave the country immediately through available commercial means,”
Spokesperson in the external affairs ministry said.
While noting that it was the third
such advisory by the government, he hoped that the Indians, most of whom are
nurses in Yemen, will understand the “seriousness” of the situation and will
return. He added that the government was working with the nurses for their
return while putting number of Indians in Yemen at 3,000-3,500 who are living
in various provinces including Sanaa.
Yemen is witnessing attacks by Shia
militiamen on the president and other state figures. The rising unrest has
fuelled long time divisions in Yemen, where the government, Huthis, southern
separatists, powerful Sunni tribes and the local al-Qaida branch are all vying
The Indian Embassy in Sanaa had set
up helplines to assist the Indians.
Yemen’s embattled President fled his
palace in Aden for an undisclosed location on Wednesday as Shia rebels offered
cash bounty for his capture and abducted his defence minister.
President Abdrahbu Mansour Hadi left
just hours after the rebels’ own television station said they seized an air
base where US troops and Europeans advised the country in its fight against
al-Qaida militants. That air base is only 60 kilometres away from Aden, the
port city where Hadi had established a temporary capital.
Witnesses said they saw a convoy of
presidential vehicles on Wednesday leaving Hadi’s palace, located at the top of
a hill in Aden overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Presidential officials said Hadi was
in an operations room overseeing his forces’ response. They declined to say
where that facility was located. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity
as they weren’t authorised to brief journalists.
The advance of the Shia rebels, known
as Houthis, threatens to plunge the Arab world’s poorest country into a civil
war that could draw in its Gulf neighbours. Already, Hadi had asked the United
Nations to authorise a foreign military intervention in the country.
Yemen’s state television broadcaster,
controlled by Houthis, made an offer of some $100,000 for Hadi’s capture.
Officials meanwhile said that the country’s defence minister Maj Gen Mahmoud
al-Subaihi and his top aide were arrested in the southern city of Lahj, where
fighting with Houthi forces was ongoing, before they were transferred to Sanaa.
Already, military officials said
militias and military units loyal to Hadi had ‘fragmented,’ speeding the rebel
advance. They said the rebels were fighting Hadi’s allied forces on five
different fronts on Wednesday.
Mohammed Abdel-Salam, a spokesman for
the Houthis, said that their forces were not aiming to ‘occupy’ the south. “They
will be in Aden in few hours,” Abdel-Salam told the Houthis’ satellite
Al-Masirah news channel.
Earlier, Al-Masirah reported that the
Houthis and allied fighters had secured the al-Annad air base, the country’s
largest. It claimed the base had been looted by both al-Qaida fighters and
troops loyal to Hadi.
The reported Houthi takeover of the
base took place after hours-long clashes between rival forces around the base.
The US recently evacuated some 100 soldiers, including Special Forces
commandos, from the base after al-Qaida briefly seized a nearby city. Britain
also evacuated soldiers.