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Days after taking over power in Yemen, Shiite rebels seize control of key central province

  • Houthi Shiite Yemenis wearing army uniforms, stand guard outside parliament, during a meeting in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. Yemen's Shiite rebels are meeting with political rivals for the first time since cementing their power grab last week by dissolving parliament and making their top security body the de facto government. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

    Houthi Shiite Yemenis wearing army uniforms, stand guard outside parliament, during a meeting in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. Yemen's Shiite rebels are meeting with political rivals for the first time since cementing their power grab last week by dissolving parliament and making their top security body the de facto government. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 file photo, Houthi Shiite Yemenis wearing army uniforms chant slogans during a rally to show support for their comrades in Sanaa, Yemen. On Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, a day after taking power, Shiite rebels in Yemen found themselves increasingly under pressure Saturday as thousands protested against their rule and a group of nearby countries denounced their "coup." (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 file photo, Houthi Shiite Yemenis wearing army uniforms chant slogans during a rally to show support for their comrades in Sanaa, Yemen. On Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, a day after taking power, Shiite rebels in Yemen found themselves increasingly under pressure Saturday as thousands protested against their rule and a group of nearby countries denounced their "coup." (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)  (The Associated Press)

Yemeni military officials say Shiite have seized a key central province, just days after formally taking over power in the country.

The officials say the Houthi rebels, aided by troops loyal to the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, took full control of Bayda province on Tuesday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to talk to reporters.

Bayda is the gateway to the country's south, which remains in the hands of the pro-independence southerners and to the strategic oil-rich Maarib province, to the east, also still not in rebel hands.

Last week, the Houthis dissolved parliament and formally took over. They also put President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his Cabinet ministers under house arrest. Hadi and the ministers have since resigned in protest.