Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Yemeni officials say 2 dead in violence in south | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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RADFAN, Yemen (AP) – Five days of clashes between Yemeni troops, backed by tanks, and tribesmen in a southern town have left one soldier and one protester dead and at least 10 people injured, hospital officials said Friday.

Police said that so far they have arrested 69 people suspected of taking part in rioting that engulfed southern Yemen, including 18 in the town of Radfan.

The protests were marking the anniversary of the 1994 southern separatist uprising, which was crushed by government troops. South and North Yemen merged in 1990 but southerners say they are marginalized and separatist calls remain prevalent. The south has seen several bouts of violence since the unification.

The latest round of protests began Monday in several places in the south, with protesters calling for secession from the north and accusing the central government of plundering the south’s wealth. Security forces tried to quell the protests but they turned violent in many places, with several stores being burned and private property damaged.

In Radfan, 135 miles (220 kilometers) south of San’a, a construction worker who was among the protesters died Thursday of shrapnel wounds in the Habalein area, hospital officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Security officials said a soldier also died in the violence, but it was unclear when and how he died. The security officials also spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason.

Radfan was particularly tense because local tribes tried to prevent the military from setting up checkpoints on the town edges and staged hit-and-run attacks on the army. The troops backed with tanks edged closer to the town late Thursday, and shelling was heard early Friday from hilltops. Radfan stores remained shut and only local gunmen roamed the streets.

Qassim al-Efeify, head of the Habalein municipality, said the military operation aimed to rout the groups plotting to attack the military checkpoints.