Yemen's second highest ranking intelligence official has been abducted in Sanaa by suspected Houthi fighters who have been in control of the capital since a September offensive, security sources said.

"General Yahia al-Marrani was kidnapped this morning by armed Houthis from his home in Sanaa," a source told the AFP news agency.

Another source said that about 20 fighters had stormed Marrani's residence and taken him to an unknown location on Thursday.

The kidnapping was confirmed to AFP by a relative of the officer, who had served for five years as head of the police intelligence unit in Saada province, a Houthi stronghold in north Yemen.

He was named as a director in Yemen's intelligence services and head of internal security by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took power following a 2012 uprising that unseated longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Associated Press news agency said that when the Houthi members came to Marrani's residence, he had reportedly told his guards to put down their guns to avoid clashes.

Yemen has been rocked by instability since the Shia fighters, who are also known as Ansarullah, seized control of Sanaa on September 21.

The Houthis have since expanded their presence in central and western Yemen, but have been met by fierce resistance from Sunni tribes and al-Qaeda fighters.

Source: Agencies