Three killed in clashes in Yemen

May 3rd, 2009 - 5:22 am ICT by IANS  

Sana’a (Yemen), May 3 (DPA) Three civilians were killed and seven people were wounded in clashes Saturday between anti-government protesters and security forces in restive southern Yemen, witnesses and local officials said.
Witnesses told the DPA that a street vendor was killed in crossfire near the Habileen city of the Lahj province. They said that five other people were wounded in the clashes.

Lahj Deputy Governor Yassir al-Yamani confirmed the witness reports and said that two other civilians were killed in the Radfan city of Lahj. He told reporters that the two men were killed during an attack by anti-government gunmen against a security post in the city.

Lahj, some 300 km south of the capital Sana’a, is one of the strongholds of the southern separatist groups that have been leading confrontations with security forces since last week in several southern cities.

Two Yemeni Army officers were wounded after gunmen loyal to the separatist movements ambushed two Army personnel carriers in the provincial capital of the neighbouring Dalea province, local sources said.

Violent anti-government protests engulfed cities in the southern provinces of Lahj, Dalea and Hadhramout during the last few days, leaving dozens of casualties among protesters and security forces, amid calls by southern separatists for the south to secede from the rest of Yemen.

The violence highlights the increasing tensions between southern and northern Yemen, nearly 15 years after a civil war in 1994 that ended with the defeat of the southern military by northern forces led by President Ali Abdullah Saleh. North and South Yemen were united in 1990.

Southerners have often complain of discrimination since the 1994 war.

The recent wave of violence followed protests led by the southern opposition against against what they claim are the government’s discriminatory policies against southern citizens and regions.

Southern groups say they were also protesting the continued presence of military and police posts installed last year in southern cities after riots in those areas.

Authorities in Sana’a have accused leaders of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), the former ruling party in the south, of inciting the violence.

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