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.