Yemen: Protesters killed in pro-secession rallies


Yemeni protesters call for southern independence during a demonstration on the first anniversary of the ouster of autocratic leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in Aden on February 21, 2013. Yemeni police shot dead four people in clashes with protesters who had gathered at a square in the southern port city, Fathi Ben Lazraq, a member of the Southern Movement, told AFP.



Yemeni security forces clashed with protesters on Thursday, leaving anywhere between two to four protesters dead.

The Associated Press reported that two separatist protesters were killed and 18 injured, while Agence France Presse said four people died.

The clashes took place in the city of Aden, where protesters called for southern independence on the first anniversary of the ouster of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

A year ago, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was elected in a one-candidate referendum, part of a power transfer deal backed by the US to peacefully transition from Saleh's autocratic rule.

Fathi Ben Lazraq, a member of the Southern Movement, told AFP that police fired on the protesters as thousands gathered at a square in Aden.

Three activists "were killed by police gunfire as they were trying to reach the place where the rally was being held," said Ben Lazraq.

The story from the officials went differently. Officials said separatist fighters attempted to storm the crowd, prompting the security forces to shoot. The officials told the AP that there was a firefight, and at least four of the wounded were Yemeni army soldiers.

The protests in Yemen which led to Saleh's ouster also revived separatist sentiment in the south, Reuters noted. Yemenis in the south have complained of discrimination and separatists are now pushing for a separate socialist state.

According to Reuters, the separatists who gathered on Thursday were protesting against the first anniversary celebrations held by Hadi supporters.

More on GlobalPost: Yemen fighter plane crashes in Sanaa, killing at least 12