Shelling by Yemen's Shiite Houthi rebels in the heavily contested western city of Taiz struck a museum housing rare manuscripts and the possessions of a deceased ruler.

Activist Reham al-Badr, who inspected the National Museum in Taiz, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Shiite rebels have routinely shelled the district where the museum is located, which is defended by local fighters.

She says the museum was struck Sunday.

The interior walls of the building were torched black and the museum was filled with rubble and twisted metal.

Al-Badr, who visited the museum earlier Wednesday, says it housed a collection of watches, guns, swords, gifts from foreign visitors and manuscripts belonging to Imam Ahmed, who ruled until the 1960s.

Houthi spokesmen declined to comment.