Yemeni separatists drove government troops out of two military camps in deadly clashes Tuesday (August 20th), reinforcing their presence in the south after they seized the de facto capital Aden, AFP reported.
The fighting, in Abyan province, came after the Southern Transitional Council (STC) partially withdrew from key sites it occupied in Aden earlier this month, and the Arab coalition -- which backs the government -- said it had "succeeded in calming the situation".
But on Tuesday fighters from the Security Belt Forces initially surrounded a special forces camp in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan about 60 kilometres from Aden, and a nearby military camp at al-Kawd, Abyan governor Abu Bakr Hussein said.
He said the separatists then seized the al-Kawd camp in fierce clashes, forcing out the 350 troops there, and that they remained positioned around the Zinjibar base following the exit of government forces in a deal mediated by local authorities.
At least four military personnel -- two separatists and two government troops -- were killed and 23 wounded in the fighting, said Hussein, adding that 1,100 troops had been stationed in Zinjibar.
Yemen's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad al-Hadhrami said the latest flare-up will undermine peace talks.
"What Abyan governorate is witnessing is an unjustified escalation by the STC," the Yemeni foreign ministry quoted him as saying.
"It is something that is rejected and unacceptable and will undermine mediation efforts by Saudi Arabia."
The UN's Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths said he held a "positive and engaging" meeting with Saudi's deputy defence minister, Prince Khaled bin Salman, on Monday to discuss the crisis.
"Tireless role under Khaled bin Salman's leadership to restore order and stability in south Yemen," he tweeted Tuesday. "We agreed on the need for continuous dialogue."