Thousands of supporters of Yemen's powerful, armed Shiite rebel group have escalated their standoff with the government, setting up tents near three ministries to press for a Cabinet reshuffle and reversal of a recent fuel subsidy cut.

Friday was the third day supporters of the Hawthi group marched in Sanaa and across the country. In a televised speech late Thursday, leader Abdel-Malek al-Hawthi described the protest as a "revolution" and denounced what he described as attempts to paint his supporters' demonstrations as "sectarian."

The Hawthis have for months been fighting ultraconservative Islamists in northern cities, accusing them of turning their strongholds into incubators of extremism.