ADEN, Yemen, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The military tension between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) on Sunday continued to escalate amid heavy deployment of forces in the southern port city of Aden.
"Security units loyal to the Aden-based STC were deployed around the Republican Palace and prevented the government's ministers from holding a meeting inside the building," a local government official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
"The security forces loyal to the STC set up several checkpoints at the main entrances of the cabinet headquarters and forced the ministers to go back," he said.
There is still no official press confirmation from the Saudi-backed Yemeni government about the incident in Aden.
However, an STC official denied that their forces had prevented the Yemeni government members from reaching the Republican Palace in Aden for a scheduled meeting.
"All the government's ministers are currently based in Saudi Arabia including the prime minister and our forces increased presence everywhere in Aden for security reasons," the official said, also on condition of anonymity.
"Only some secretaries of the government ministers are available these days inside the palace and they were allowed to freely reach their offices without any interruption," the STC source added.
On Thursday, the newly-recruited southern military forces decided to raise its combat readiness in Aden, citing soaring tension with the government forces.
The recent tension is set to escalate after Saudi Arabia prevented senior southern political leaders from returning to Aden on Thursday.
The STC, a key ally of the Saudi-led Arab coalition, has released a press statement through their media outlets to protest the Saudi statement that the STC "could trigger a devastating popular uprising in the south."
The impoverished Arab country has been locked in a civil war since late 2014 when the Houthi rebels overran much of the country and seized all northern areas including the capital Sanaa.