Yemen separatists surround presidential palace in Aden
The government has accused the separatists of attempting a coup in Aden, where more than 36 people have been killed in clashes that opened yet another front in the country’s devastating conflict.world Updated: Jan 30, 2018 18:47 IST
Separatists in war-ravaged Yemen have surrounded the presidential palace in the government’s de facto capital Aden, moving closer Tuesday to taking full control of the southern city.
The government has accused the separatists of attempting a coup in Aden, where more than 36 people have been killed in clashes that opened yet another front in the country’s devastating conflict.
The southern port city has served as the government’s base since 2014 after the Iran-backed Huthi rebels -- who hail from northern Yemen -- took control of the capital Sanaa in their fight against the state.
While President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi now resides in Riyadh, two military officials said Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher and a number of senior government figures were holed up in the Aden presidential palace.
“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.
For three years, Hadi’s Saudi-backed administration was allied with the separatists, driving the Huthi rebels out of the south and back into their strongholds in the north.
But tension between the allies began to surface in April when Hadi dismissed a cabinet minister and the Aden governor in a move that was widely seen as reflecting divisions among his supporters.
Tensions boiled over into armed clashes between the separatists and pro-government forces on Sunday, fuelling chaos in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country where a civil war has already left thousands dead and millions on the brink of starvation.
Under the self-proclaimed Southern Transitional Council (STC), the separatists have gained traction since April in their push for self-rule, demanding the reinstatement of South Yemen as an independent entity.
The STC this month called on Hadi to make changes in his government, accusing him of corruption and mismanagement.
The clashes have sparked fears of a repeat of the 1986 South Yemen civil war, a failed socialist coup which killed thousands in just six days and helped pave the way for the 1991 unification of South and North Yemen.
The separatists, who enjoy popular support and are backed by some military troops, have rapidly gained control over all but one district in Aden since Sunday.