Sanaa, Yemen (CNN)- Heavy clashes erupted outside the presidential palace in Yemen on Monday after a dispute over road closures in the capital, officials said.
The roads were closed as a security measure after the presidential chief of staff was abducted in Sanaa last week.
Yemen described the unfolding events as a bid to seize power.
Gunmen linked to the Houthi political movement are attacking the presidential administration in a bid to take control of the symbol of power, said Nadia Al Sakkaf, the minister of information.
President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was not in the building and is safe, according to Al Sakkaf.
Casualties include some government officials who were in the building, although an exact number is unclear, she said.
The dispute began when the government tried to implement a security plan as they feared more abductions of key staff, she said.
But a top Houthi official said they tried to mediate with the army and asked for the roads to be opened for the citizens, which led to their people getting attacked. He said they then had to defend themselves.
Houthi rebels claimed responsibility Saturday for the abduction of the Yemeni President’s chief of staff, Ahmed bin Mubarak.
The top presidential aide was abducted by gunmen Saturday morning, security officials said.
Hadi appointed him as premier back in October, but the rebels rejected the nomination.
The chief of staff had been detained by the Houthis as a message to the President, said Osama Sari, senior media adviser to the Houthi movement in Yemen.
Sari added this was because the President wanted to introduce a new constitution without the approval of the Houthis.
Hadi was elected President in February 2012.. He was the only candidate on the ballot.