ADEN, Yemen, (Reuters) – A soldier has been killed in an ambush in south Yemen, an official said on Sunday, after secessionists captured another two soldiers and demanded the release of two southern leaders in government detention.
The soldier died on Saturday evening in the province of Lahej in an area called Jad’aa, according to a local government official. He said the ambush was carried out by armed men.
On Saturday secessionists set the government a 48-hour deadline to release southern leaders or else it “would not be responsible” for the lives of two kidnapped soldiers, the opposition Aden News Agency reported.
The soldiers had been on leave in their hometown of Taizz and were returning to their barracks when they were seized in Lahej the same day, the defence ministry said.
Yemen’s south is home to a number of secessionist factions complaining of political and economic marginalisation, most of which call for a peaceful solution to their standoff with Sanaa.
In February, Sanaa concluded a truce deal with northern Shi’ite rebels, who complain of discrimination by the government, bringing an end to the latest round of fighting in a conflict that has been waged since 2004.
Yemen, located by a major shipping lane, is also facing al Qaeda militancy.
A court in the southern Hadramaut province convicted six men on Sunday for incitement against the central government, the government news website September 16 reported.
One, Fawaz Hassan Ahmed Ba’oum, the son of a prominent southern leader, was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison for crimes including “harming national unity” and “publishing biased statements”.
The court said Ba’oum, who is thought to be outside the country, is banned for life from occupying any public positions in an apparent precedent for a punishment of this type.
Three others were sentenced to three years in prison and two were sentenced to eight years but allowed to go free under police observation for two years.