Yemen's Shi'ite rebels have seized control of a strategic port city on the Red Sea, hours after the president appointed a new prime minister in an effort appease rebels and ease years of political turmoil.

Security officials say Houthi rebels overran Hodeida Tuesday, meeting little resistance and quickly erecting checkpoints and sending forces to the airport, military bases and other key parts of the city.

The takeover of Hodeida, located 200 kilometers west of Sana'a, came weeks after rebel forces seized the capital with relative ease.

Houthi rebels, traditionally based in the north, have been fighting troops and other militants in a battle to gain more control of the country.

Tens of thousands of supporters of the separatist Southern Movement demonstrated earlier Tuesday in the port city of Aden, calling for the south's independence.

Yemen has struggled for stability since widespread protests forced former longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave office in 2012.

The country is also battling militants from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is considered one of the terrorist group's most active branches.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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