Yemen's southern separatists on Saturday captured a
major city in the province of Socotra Archipelago, a UNESCO World
Heritage site, from a Saudi-backed government, a local official said.
Loyalists of the self-styled Southern Transitional Council (STC), which seeks independence for southern Yemen from the north, took control of all government facilities in Hadiboh, the capital city of Socotra, after fighting against government forces there, the local council official added.
"Armed clashes between the transition forces and the government army have stopped after the STC controlled the city," the official told dpa on condition of anonymity, without reporting casualties. The STC, supported by the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile said its forces had seized the province of Socotra from what it called Islamist militias allied with Qatar and Turkey. The separatist body added in an online statement that mass rallies were held Saturday in Hadiboh in celebration of "liberating the province from the Brotherhood militias."
So far, there has been no comment from the Yemeni government.
But the pro-government governor of Socotra, Ramzi Mahrous, accused the STC of plunging the province into "overwhelming chaos." He said in a press statement on Saturday that the separatists had overrun state institutions in Hadiboh. "Socotra will not bow to militias of havoc and their supporters," he added.
Tensions have grown between the government and the southern separatists since April, when the STC unilaterally announced self-rule in areas under its control in war-devastated Yemen. Socotra, which received UNESCO status due to its rich biodiversity, has been the target of repeated STC attempts to control it in recent months.
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