Southern separatists in Yemen claimed they had seized the presidential palace in the second city Aden after fierce battles with loyalist forces, prompting the government to decry what it called a UAE-backed 'coup'.
The deadly clashes reflect deep divisions between secessionists and loyalist forces, both of whom have fought Shiite Houthi rebels. Yemeni President, Abderabbo Mansour Hadi, based in Saudi Arabia, is backed by a Riyadh-led coalition battling the Houthis who hail from Yemen's north.
But another force in the anti-Houthi coalition, trained by Riyadh ally the United Arab Emirates( UAE), has since Wednesday been battling loyalists in Aden, the temporary base of Hadi's government.
The UAE-backed Security Belt Force is dominated by fighters who back the Southern Transitional Council (STC), which seeks to restore south Yemen as an independent state as it was from 1967-1990.
A security belt official late Saturday said the force had seized the presidential palace - largely symbolic, due to Hadi's absence - without a fight.
"Two hundred soldiers from the Presidential Guard were given safe passage out of the palace," the official said.