Thursday, 4 March 2010

Mediation efforts with separatist leader may stop violent escalation

By Nasser Arrabyee/05/3/2010

Surprise calm has prevailed in the most unstable southern city of Zinjubar, in Abyan province after efforts of mediation with the most controversial separatist leader, Tarek Al Fadhli, local sources Friday.

No demonstrations took place in city on Thursday when at least six people were killed and injured in the demonstrations, which took place in Lahj and Shabwa.

Separation flags, anti-unity slogans and posters, and pictures of separatist leaders, were removed from the city and from the place around the Palace of Al Fadhli where demonstrations usually take place, the sources said.

This surprise change came after the security forces surrounded the Palace of Al Fadhli on suspicion that his followers were behind firing an RPG on an armored vehicle earlier this week inside the city of Zinjubar. The RPG missed the vehicle.

The siege on the Palace was immediately lifted after high-profile security and military officials contacted with Al Fadhli, whose sister is married to most influential military commander Ali Muhsen, cousin of the President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The change in the attitude of Al Fadhli, ex-jihadist in Afghanistan, came also after the trade of weapons and separatist leader, Ali Al Yafe'e was killed in his house in the city earlier this week.

Al Yafe'e, accused also by the government as an Al Qaeda operative, had hung and burned an effigy of the President Ali Abdullah Saleh last Sunday in anti-unity demonstration around the palace of Al Fadhli. Eyewitnesses said at the time, that Al Fadhli, quickly entered his palace when the effigy was being burned.

An unsigned statement was distributed in the city of Zinjubar accusing Al Fadhli of conspiring against the separatists. Al Fadhli fought against the separatists in 1994 with the armed forces of President Saleh who won the war.

A new security director was appointed Wednesday in the city after a visit by the two ministers of defense and interior.

Thursday which was quiet in Zinjubar, three people at least including two soldiers were killed and three others injured in clashes between security forces and armed separatists in Radfan and Shabwa, south of Yemen where secession sentiments are increasing day by day, local and official sources said.

A man was killed and three others injured when armed demonstrations, calling for disunity, fired randomly at the security forces who were removing a separation flag raised earlier by the separatists on the government's offices in Al Habeelin, Radfan, the sources said.

Two soldiers died when a military vehicle capsized because of high speed after armed demonstrators fired at a number of vehicles who came to disperse armed demonstrations in Mayfa'ah, Shabwah province.

Gunmen notably increased over the last two days in angry demonstrations organized almost daily by separatists after one of their leaders who called for armed struggle, was killed in Abyan.

Qasem Abdul Rahman, the deputy governor of Lahj said that the majority of the demonstrators in Radfan on Thursday were armed, and they tried to storm the government offices.

The official said the armed demonstrators raised the separation flag over the local authority offices in Al Habeelin before they clashed with the security men.

He said that the separatists killed more than 20 people and injured more than 70 others since April last year when they started to weapons in their demonstrations.

More 200 cars belonging to the government and to people from the north, were plundered during the same period, he said.

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