Five dead as troops defy Yemen president in Aden power base
Yemeni special forces opposed to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi battled loyalist militia in his southern power base Aden Thursday leaving five people dead and forcing the international airport to close.
The heavily armed troops, who are allied with Shiite militia in control of the capital Sanaa, advanced inside the airport perimeter but the Hadi loyalists managed to secure the runway, security sources said.
Fighting also erupted in other parts of the port city, including outside the Aden branch of Yemen’s central bank, as special forces commander Abdel Hafez al-Saqqaf deployed his men at points around the city during the night.
Three special forces troops were killed and six wounded in the fighting, sources close to Saqqaf said.
Two Hadi loyalists were killed and seven wounded, the militia said.
Travellers arriving at the international airport early Thursday were told to turn back because of the fighting.
“I could not move,” one told AFP, saying that access to the airport was blocked by armed men.
Witnesses said that the airport control tower came under fire.
Hadi fled to Aden last month after escaping from house arrest by the Shiite militia who control the capital, and sought to reestablish his authority in the southern port city.
Much of Aden is under the control of the Popular Resistance Committees — locally recruited militia loyal to Hadi — but the 2,000 strong special forces refuse to acknowledge his authority.
Saqqaf has defied a decree by Hadi relieving him of his command and said he will only follow orders from the presidential council in Sanaa.
The Huthi militia, who overran the capital last September, named the council to replace Hadi in February but the president says it has no legitimacy.
The Huthis control much of the north of Yemen, but Hadi loyalists control most of Aden and neighbouring southern provinces.
Yemen, a front line in the US war on Al-Qaeda, has descended into chaos since the 2012 ouster of longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been accused of backing the Huthis
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