ADEN, Senior tribal, military and political leaders have formed a new council seeking the secession of southern Yemen, the former governor of the area's main city Aden said, threatening to bring more turmoil to a two-year-old civil war.

Aidaroos al-Zubaidi made his announcement in a televised address in front of the flag of the former nation of South Yemen, whose forces were defeated by the north in 1994 and brought into a re-unified country.

He said a "national political leadership" under his presidency would administer and represent the south - a region which holds much of Yemen's modest oil deposits, the backbone of its economy.

Zubaidi said the new body would continue to cooperate with the coalition and foreign powers to combat what he called Iranian influence and terrorism.

The announcement raises the prospect of more division in an already complex conflict in the impoverished Arabian Peninsular country, where Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Gulf Arab forces against Houthi fighters allied to Iran.

Thousands of Saudi-led air strikes have backed both southern fighters and the forces of Yemen's internationally-recognised government against the Houthis.

Neither the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which is nominally based in Aden but works mostly from Riyadh, nor the Saudi-led coalition could be immediately reached for comment.

But Saudi Arabia and its key ally the United Arab Emirates, despite arming and funding southern troops during the war, do not back secession and say they fight for a unified Yemen.

Many southerners feel that officials in the north have exploited their resources and cut them off from jobs and influence.

Violence, famine and disease have killed more than 10,000 people since the start of the conflict, the United Nations says.