UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting on Yemen

A member of a local resistance group, known as People's Committee which supports the Yemen president, mans a checkpoint at the northern entrance of the southern city of Aden on March 21, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saleh al-Obeidi)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Sunday on violence-wracked Yemen, diplomats said, after US troops were evacuated from a key airbase.

The meeting will take place at the request of embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, amid spiraling violence, after several suicide bombings at Shiite Huthi mosques claimed by the Sunni Islamic State group killed 142 people on Friday.

In a letter addressed Friday to the Security Council, Hadi denounced "the criminal acts of the Huthi militias and their allies," saying they "not only threaten peace in Yemen but the regional and international peace and security."

"I urge for your urgent intervention in all available means to stop this aggression that is aimed at undermining the legitimate authority, the fragmentation of Yemen and its peace and stability," Hadi wrote.

The meeting will allow the envoys of the 15 member countries to hear an update on the situation on the ground, likely to be made by UN Special Adviser Jamal Benomar, who has tried to mediate the conflict for several months.

Representatives from Yemen and Qatar will also speak before the council meets behind closed doors.

Diplomats said the council may adopt a declaration but not a resolution, which would be too difficult to negotiate in several hours.

By claiming its first attack in Yemen, IS is seeking to exploit the chaos gripping the country where rival Al-Qaeda has traditionally been the dominant militant movement.

The Huthis have vowed revenge.

Accusing the Huthis of importing Tehran's ideology, Hadi meanwhile lashed out at the Iran-backed militia.

The Huthis belong to the Zaidi offshoot of Shiite Islam. They are believed to have converted to Twelver Shiism, which is followed by Iran, but insist that Tehran does not meddle in Yemeni affairs.

Yemen has acknowledged that American personnel gathering intelligence for drone strikes targeting Al-Qaeda are deployed at Al-Anad airbase.

The country is on the brink of civil war, with a deepening political impasse and an increasingly explicit territorial division along sectarian lines, amid rising violence between Huthi militia and Sunni tribes and Al-Qaeda.