JEDDAH: At least four fighters died in gun battles in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on Saturday in a power struggle among separatist forces.
Residents in the city’s centralCrater district were urged to remain at home and armored vehicles were deployed by the separatist Southern Transitional Council to restore order.
There was heavy gunfire throughout the day in Crater, the area that houses government headquarters and the central bank. Aden has been the focal point of tension between the internationally recognized government and the STC over control of the south of the country.
“We ask citizens in Crater to remain at home during the next few hours as security and counterterrorism forces clean the city from some ... outlaw elements,” the STC’s Security Belt Forces unit said on Saturday. Armored vehicles later entered the area, residents said.
Yemen’s Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed returned to Aden last week from Saudi Arabia, and is in residence at the presidential palace in Crater along with other government ministers. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is based in Riyadh.
South Yemen has been paralyzed by the power struggle between the government and the STC, leading to protests in recent months over widespread poverty and poor public services. The Yemeni riyal has plunged in value, which the government blames on currency speculators and a “shadow economy” operated by the Iran-backed Houthi militia, who control most of northern Yemen.
Saudi Arabia mediated an agreement aimed at ending the standoff between the government and the STC, including a new Cabinet that includes separatists, but a planned troop redeployment by both sides outside Aden and other southern areas has not taken place.
The Arab coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis but the conflict has dragged on, killing tens of thousands and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
In northern Yemen, fighting continued on Saturday around the strategically important city of Marib.
The Houthis launched an offensive in February to capture the city, which controls most of Yemen’s oil reserves, but have been repelled by government forces and allied tribesmen, backed by Saudi air power.
Falling debris from an explosives-laden Houthi drone intercepted by Saudi air defenses early on Saturday damaged homes and shops in the southern region of Jazan.
The drone fragments scattered over a residential neighborhood in Uhud Al-Masarah governorate, but did not result in death or injury, said Col. Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, spokesperson for the Civil Defense Directorate in Jazan.