By Nasser Arrabyee/01/03/2010
Seven people were killed including four soldiers when security forces raided a group of gunmen accused of supporting the separations calls in the city of Zenjubar, Abyan south of Yemen, local sources said Monday.
The separatist group was led by Ali Saleh Al Yafe, a local weapons trader, who is accused by the security forces of providing the separatists of weapons, the sources said.
The governor of Abyan, Ahmed Al Missari, however, said that only two soldiers were killed when the security forces stormed a hideout of a group of people wanted for the security.
Security sources, however, said two Al Qaeda operatives were killed in the operation.
The security sources said that weapon trader Ali Saleh Al Yafe and one of his comrades were killed in the operation. The sources also accused them of affiliating to Al Qaeda. Three gun men were arrested in the operation, the security sources said.
Four out of the six provinces of the south (Dhale'e, Lahj, Abyan, and Hudhrmout) have been witnessing increasing demonstrations and protests by disgruntled groups calling for independence of the south, which united with the north in 1990.
The restive groups, who call themselves the peaceful southern movement, although some of them take to the streets with guns and clash with security, claim they were socially and politically marginalized and discriminated against since after the failed separation attempt in 11994.
The failed attempt by the leaders of the socialist party, which ruled the south before unity, resulted in more than 70-day all out war which ended up in the defeat of the separatists.
Over the last two days, 27th and 28th of February, thousands demonstrators in the capitals of these four provinces took to the streets demanding the independence of the south. Those demonstrations came after the former leader of the south Ali Saleh Al Baidh called the southerners from his exile in Germany, to appeal to the international community to help them have their independence.
The demonstrations coincided with the donors' two-day meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh to help Yemen maintain its unity, stability, and security by solving its problems of the armed rebellion in the northern Sa'ada and separations calls in the south and growing activity of Al Qaeda in between.