Southern Yemeni separatists took control of the port city of Aden after two days of fighting, residents said on Tuesday, besieging the presidential palace of the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Clashes broke out between southern separatists, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), against forces loyal to Saudi-backed president Hadi. They were previously united in armed opposition to the Houthi rebels.
“The separatists have surrounded the palace and now control the main gate. Those inside are unofficially under house arrest at this point,” said a high-ranking officer with the Yemeni army.
The riots caused by the separatists are seen as a coup attempt against the government in Aden, which has served as the country’s transitional capital. At least 36 people have been killed in the recent clashes, which worsened the situation in war-torn Yemen.
The tensions between the once-united factions started in April when Hadi dismissed a cabinet minister and the Aden governor highlighting a division among his supporters.
The separatists in the self-proclaimed Southern Transitional Council (STC) demand the reinstatement of South Yemen as an independent state.
The war has taken the lives of more than 10,000 Yemenis since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war in 2015, triggering what the UN has called the world’s largest humanitarian disaster.
The dire conditions have resulted in a man-made cholera outbreak that has killed at least 2,200 people amid deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions, according to the World Health Organisation.