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Yemen President fires head of special forces following botched dispersal of rebel sit-in

  • Yemeni riot police use water canons to disperse Hawthi Shiite protesters during clashes near the Foreign Ministry at a main road leading to the airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. Yemeni security forces briefly broke up a sit-in by Shiite rebels blocking the capital's airport road Sunday, only to have protesters return and keep the main highway closed after the first violence of a weekslong anti-government protest. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    Yemeni riot police use water canons to disperse Hawthi Shiite protesters during clashes near the Foreign Ministry at a main road leading to the airport in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. Yemeni security forces briefly broke up a sit-in by Shiite rebels blocking the capital's airport road Sunday, only to have protesters return and keep the main highway closed after the first violence of a weekslong anti-government protest. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Hawthi Shiite protesters stand on a lamp column while blocking a main road leading to the airport during a protest in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. Yemeni security forces moved to break up a sit-in held by Shiite rebels blocking the capital's airport road on Sunday, using water cannons, bulldozers and tear gas, security officials and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    Hawthi Shiite protesters stand on a lamp column while blocking a main road leading to the airport during a protest in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. Yemeni security forces moved to break up a sit-in held by Shiite rebels blocking the capital's airport road on Sunday, using water cannons, bulldozers and tear gas, security officials and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Hawthi Shiite protesters block a main road leading to the airport during a protest in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. Yemeni security forces moved to break up a sit-in held by Shiite rebels blocking the capital's airport road on Sunday, using water cannons, bulldozers and tear gas, security officials and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    Hawthi Shiite protesters block a main road leading to the airport during a protest in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. Yemeni security forces moved to break up a sit-in held by Shiite rebels blocking the capital's airport road on Sunday, using water cannons, bulldozers and tear gas, security officials and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

A senior Yemeni security official says the country's president has fired the head of the special forces following a botched attempt to disperse a sit-in of Shiite rebels that blocked the airport road.

The official said the president will appoint a replacement later Monday and a senior interior ministry official, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ghadra, has already been picked for the job.

Security forces moved a day earlier to disperse the sit-in, which had been an escalation of anti-government protests. The official said the action was "flustered" and didn't appear well coordinated with the government.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

On Monday, the Shiite rebel demonstrators expanded their sit-in on the airport road.