World

Airlines halt flight to Yemeni capital amid fighting between Shiite rebels and Sunni militias

  • Hawthi Shiite rebels chant slogans during a demonstration demanding the government to step down in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen battled in the streets of the Yemeni capital for a second day Friday in fighting that has killed at least 120 people, driven thousands from their homes and virtually shut down the country's main airport. The battles are raising fears of greater sectarian conflict, unseen for decades in Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    Hawthi Shiite rebels chant slogans during a demonstration demanding the government to step down in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen battled in the streets of the Yemeni capital for a second day Friday in fighting that has killed at least 120 people, driven thousands from their homes and virtually shut down the country's main airport. The battles are raising fears of greater sectarian conflict, unseen for decades in Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • Hawthi Shiite rebels hold Friday prayers during a demonstration demanding the government to step down in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen battled in the streets of the Yemeni capital for a second day Friday in fighting that has killed at least 120 people, driven thousands from their homes and virtually shut down the country's main airport. The battles are raising fears of greater sectarian conflict, unseen for decades in Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    Hawthi Shiite rebels hold Friday prayers during a demonstration demanding the government to step down in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen battled in the streets of the Yemeni capital for a second day Friday in fighting that has killed at least 120 people, driven thousands from their homes and virtually shut down the country's main airport. The battles are raising fears of greater sectarian conflict, unseen for decades in Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • People gather near a car damaged by a mortar shell during fighting between government forces and Hawthi Shiite rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen battled in the streets of the Yemeni capital for a second day Friday in fighting that has killed at least 120 people, driven thousands from their homes and virtually shut down the country's main airport. The battles are raising fears of greater sectarian conflict, unseen for decades in Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    People gather near a car damaged by a mortar shell during fighting between government forces and Hawthi Shiite rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Shiite rebels and Sunni militiamen battled in the streets of the Yemeni capital for a second day Friday in fighting that has killed at least 120 people, driven thousands from their homes and virtually shut down the country's main airport. The battles are raising fears of greater sectarian conflict, unseen for decades in Yemen. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

Yemen's civil aviation authority says foreign airlines have halted flights into the main international airport in the capital because of heavy fighting in Sanaa between Shiite rebels and Sunni militias.

In a statement on SABA news agency early Friday, the civil aviation says the airlines suspended flights to Sanaa airport for 24 hours, after which they will review the security situation.

Fighting erupted Thursday between the Shiite rebels known as the Hawthis and gunmen loyal to the Islah party, the Muslim Brotherhood's branch in Yemen. The two sides battled in Shamlan, a suburb of Sanaa that is home to the Islamic Iman University, an institution seen as a breeding ground for Sunni militants.

Amid the fighting, the Hawthis hit the headquarters of state television with mortars Thursday evening.