Yemen
People gather near a car damaged by a mortar shell during fighting between Shi'ite Houthi militants and government forces in SanaaReuters

Fighting between rebels and Islamist militias in Sanaa has pushed international airlines to suspend their flights to the Yemeni capital, authorities have said.

The armed Shia rebels, known as Houthis, are battling the main Sunni Islamist party, Islah, in the Middle Eastern country.

"Arab and foreign airlines have decided to suspend their flights to Sanaa for 24 hours because of developments in the capital," the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.

Yemen's three television channels stopped transmitting after the state broadcaster's studios were embroiled in clashes in the Jraf area near the country's main airport.

"The Houthi group is continuing to shell the television building with all kinds of weapons until this moment," the country's state television channel said.

Hundreds of residents have fled their homes while approximately 40 people have been killed in the clashes.

President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi has decided to dismiss the government and has pledged to review cuts to fuel subsidies, an unpopular decision that led to widespread protests in the capital.

The Houthi rebels said they would not negotiate with the Yemeni government because of perceived "foreign intervention" in the discussions over a solution to their protestations.

A senior government official said that the Yemeni army was conducting a "policy of restraint" in order not to exacerbate the conflict and to allow UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, an opportunity to find a solution to the clashes.

"They are protecting government installations, and have avoided getting into confrontations with the Houthi insurgents. But that will not last for long," said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Houthis are a minority Zaidi Shia community who have carried out uprisings in the last decade in the hope of winning greater autonomy for their northern province of Saada.