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Yemen: Protesters storm presidential palace demanding payment of wages

Yemen's Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik and other officials were initially trapped in the building in the port city of Aden
Security forces loyal to the separatist Southern Transitional Council stand next to vehicles as they are deployed in the southern port city of Aden (Reuters)

Yemeni public sector workers on Tuesday stormed a presidential palace in the southern port city of Aden, demanding payment of salaries.

Witnesses described dozens of protesters flooding into the palace where Yemen's Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik and other members of the internationally recognised government remain holed up, according to Reuters.

Most of Aden is controlled by forces of the United Arab Emirates-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), which had fought the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in the past.

Abdulmalik's cabinet was formed last year to unite the STC with Hadi's government and fulfill a Saudi aim of ending a feud among Riyadh's allies.

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The two groups are the main Yemeni factions in a Saudi-backed alliance fighting the Houthis, who control the north, including the capital Sanaa. Tuesday's protest broke out over public services and after the government failed to pay the salaries of retired soldiers, the witnesses said.

Protesters told AFP that they were angry over a lack of services and a delay in the payment of salaries.

Some carried flags of the southern separatist movement.

Footage on social media showed Aden's security chief, Mathar al-Shaebe, negotiating with a group of protesters and asking them to leave the security perimeter of Ma'asheeq Palace.

A government official later told AFP that Yemeni and Saudi forces escorted to safety members of the cabinet, including Saeed, to the military intelligence building on the palace grounds.

The Houthis seized control of Sanaa in September 2014, forcing the then government into exile in Riyadh and Aden.

In March the following year, the Saudi-led coalition launched a campaign to try to restore Hadi's government, carrying out thousands of air raids.

More than 230,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians dying from hunger and diseases, and millions of Yemenis have been pushed to the brink of famine.