Yemen’s southern coastal city of Aden has been gripped by days of fighting after armed separatist forces – backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – moved against the internationally recognised government.

Fighters from the Southern Resistance Forces (SRF), the armed wing of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) – a political movement demanding secession for southern Yemen – clashed with the Yemeni army and were able to wrest control of a key military base in Aden’s Khormaksar district and capture scores of soldiers.

The STC is said to have precipitated the crisis by handing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government an ultimatum last week to either dismiss Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dhagr and his cabinet or face an overthrow.

Hadi’s government refused the ultimatum and subsequently banned public gatherings ahead of Sunday’s deadline.

At least 12 people were killed in the clashes and more than 130 wounded before Hadi’s government called an immediate ceasefire.