A senior Yemeni intelligence official was kidnapped by suspected Houthis, a Shiite minority group, in Yemen's capital city of Sanaa on Thursday, media reports said, citing security officials. Maj. Gen. Yehia al-Marani was reportedly abducted after gunmen stormed into his residence and demanded that he come with them.
About 20 Houthis arrived at al-Marani’s home and took him to an unknown location, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing a source. The kidnapping was reportedly confirmed by al-Marani’s relative. Al-Marani ordered his guards to put down their weapons to avoid a gunfight with the insurgent group, The Associated Press reported. The gunmen also reportedly took his personal guard and driver along, but later released them.
"General Yahia al-Marrani... was kidnapped this morning by armed Huthis from his home in Sanaa," a source told AFP.
Al-Marani reportedly was in charge of a police intelligence unit for five years in Saada province, which is a Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen. He was later named the director of Yemen's intelligence services by President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Sanaa has been the focus of intense fighting since Houthis took control of the country’s capital and the main port city of Hodeida on Sept. 21. Since January, the Houthis, who are a Zaidi Shia group constituting nearly 30 percent of Yemen's population, have been trying to spread their influence by capturing territories in the country’s north and south.