20 killed as Yemen’s government warns of coup threat
At least 20 people, including five civilians were killed in clashes in the Yemeni city of Aden on Friday, doctors and officials said.
The clashes could further complicate Yemen's bloody civil war and fracture the government side in the conflict. The government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have been battling rebels since 2015.
In a statement quoted by Yemen’s official SABA news agency, the government accused the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, which wants to create a separate state in southern Yemen, of responsibility for a recent escalation in violence in Aden.
Heavy fighting has been raging in Aden for two days between UAE-backed southern separatist militias and government forces supported by Saudi Arabia.
The clashes are taking place in the Crater area of central Aden and in the Khormaksar and Dar Saad districts, with Crater residents being trapped in their own homes.
On Thursday evening, the clashes forced the closure of Aden’s international airport.
The national airline, Yemenia Airways, the only operating airline in and out of Yemen, on Thursday diverted all flights to Seiyun airport, nearly 840 kilometers (522 miles) northeast of Aden airport due to the volatile situation.
Yemen’s internationally recognised government on Thursday likened the clashes with southern forces to the 2014 Houthi takeover of the Yemeni capital Sana’a.
Fighting between the factions began on Wednesday after Hani bin Brek, the deputy chairman of the STC , called for the overthrow of the internationally-recognised government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the takeover of the presidential palace.
Bin Brek branded Hadi’s administration as “a government of terrorism and corruption that is allied with the Islah terrorist party”. The Islah party is the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation which the UAE strongly opposes wherever it is active in the Middle East.
The government accused the STC of putting the lives of civilians at stake by using heavy weapons in Aden. It vowed to “protect the institutions of the state and the safety of civilians”.
Agencies contributed to this report.