By Nasser Arrabyee/23/07/2009
At least 10 people were killed and 20 injured when angry demonstrators calling for separation clashed with the security forces in Abyan south of Yemen, said officials and local sources Thursday.
The Yemeni government said the demonstrators were trying to storm the government's local prison to liberate tens of detainees by force.
"When the security forces tried to stop them from attacking the main office of the central security, they started to fire RPG on the office and firing bullets randomly killing 8 and injuring 18 others including six security men," said Ahmed Al Maisari, governor of Abyan province.
He added that the demonstrators set fire to a police car and damaged some governmental buildings and some neighboring private houses.
However, representatives of the demonstrators said the security forces fired randomly at them while gathering in a rally calling for separating the south from the north and establish an independent state.
Tarik Al Fadhli, a wealthy tribal chief and former Jihadist, was speaking to thousands of disgruntled southerners who gathered around his luxurious palace in Abyan to demand independence and release of some separation activists who were arrested earlier this month.
"When we finished the rally at about 9:30 am, the security forces fired at us randomly killing 11 and injuring a lot of others," Said Nasser Al Fadhli, brother of Tarik. He mentioned the names of seven dead people including two guards of his brothers' palace.
He denied that they were intending to storm the prison and liberate the detainees by force.
"The confrontation would happen there (in the prison) if we were to go to the prison," he said.
Tribesmen from Mareb and Al Jawf appealed to President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stop repercussions of this incident, which, they said, threatens the national unity.
Local sources who attended the rally said, Tarik Al Fadhli, who was one of President Saleh's advisors until early this year, told the angry demonstrators to go to liberate the detainees by force if the authorities did not release them when the rally was over.
The rally was held around Al Fadhl's palace which is close to the government's offices including the prison where the detainees were held.
The local sources added, after listening to anti-unity speeches calling for "separation and liberating the south from the occupation of the northerners", the armed and angry demonstrators started to move towards the prison to liberate the detainees. They clashed with the security men who were heavily deployed around the palace.