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.