Sanaa Houthi fighters battle Yemeni military
Dust thrown up by shelling is seen near the presidential palace during clashes between the Yemeni army and Houthi fighters in Sanaa. Reuters

Shia Houthi rebels have captured the presidential palace in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, eyewitnesses have said.

It is believed that President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was not present in the residence when it was attacked by the rebels.

Yemeni army commander of the Presidential Protection Force, Col. Saleh al-Jamalani, said the rebels had carried out a "coup".

The country's information minister, Nadia al-Saqqaf, said that Hadi's residence elsewhere in the capital was being shelled by "militias seeking to overthrow the ruling system".

Earlier, shots were fired at a US Embassy vehicle in the capital as fighting raged around President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi's residence.

He told the Associated Press rebels were assisted by government insiders and had begun to loot arms depots in the grounds of the palace.

Last week, the rebels abducted the President's chief of staff, Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak.