Yemen Shi'ites say ready to face 'any measures' by UN Security Council

People watch as leader of Yemen's Houthi movement Abdulmalik al-Huthi delivers a live speech in Sanaa on Jan 20, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
People watch as leader of Yemen's Houthi movement Abdulmalik al-Huthi delivers a live speech in Sanaa on Jan 20, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SANAA (AFP) - Shi'ite militiamen who seized control of Yemen's presidential palace on Tuesday are ready to face "any measures" by the UN Security Council, their chief, Mr Abdulmalik al-Huthi, said.

"I advise the UN Security Council... (that) you will not benefit from any measures you wish to take" against the Huthis, he said.

"We are ready to face the consequences, regardless of what they are."

The Security Council in November slapped sanctions against two of his Shi'ite militia's military commanders, as well as ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is accused of backing the rebels, but not on Mr Huthi himself.

Mr Huthi's long televised speech came after UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon called for an immediate halt to the fighting in Yemen.

Mr Ban said he was "gravely concerned", as the Security Council met behind closed doors to hear a report from his special envoy on the apparent bid to overthrow President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi.

The UN chief urged "all sides to immediately cease all hostilities, exercise maximum restraint and take the necessary steps to restore full authority to the legitimate government institutions".

After a brief lull overnight, Huthi gunmen seized the palace on Tuesday and attacked Mr Hadi's Sanaa residence, with the President reportedly inside.