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Yemen conflict a ticking time bomb

A sectarian war in Yemen is ripping the country apart and threatening to spill next door into Saudi Arabia.

Saudi troops are already amassing at the border with Yemen, a conflict-riddled country some observers are now describing as an Iranian-Saudi battleground.

Yemeni Houthi rebels, who are Shias from the north of the country, seized power in January and dissolved parliament.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi was confined to his presidential palace in the port city of Aden.

But the Houthi rebels, who are believed to be supported by Iran, raided the palace on Friday and are now threatening the Sunni population.

Mr Hadi escaped to Saudi Arabia last week.

Meanwhile Al-Qaeda has marshalled its forces in east Yemen, its home base.

The Houthis control the west.

PRISON BREAK

On Thursday, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) broke into a prison in the coastal Yemeni city of Al Mukallah and released at least 270 of its fighters.

To complicate matters further, Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh is linked with the Houthi rebels.

President Hadi is supported by Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition that has been dropping bombs on Houthi rebel positions.

Saudi Arabia has also signalled it may send in ground troops.

This conflict will have an impact worldwide because the Gulf of Aden, off Yemen's coast, sees huge tonnage in merchant shipping, reported CNN.

Every day, three million barrels of oil pass through these waters. To the south are the Indian Ocean and shipping lanes to energy-hungry Asian markets.