Yemen separatists break into jail

2010-11-11 19:05

Aden - Gunmen attacked a military checkpoint outside a south Yemen city on Thursday and demonstrators tried to break into a jail to protest against a southern separatist leader's arrest, local officials said.

The checkpoint clash occurred hours before about 4 000 people, according to local residents, took to the streets in the southern city of Dalea for a second day of protests against Tuesday's arrest of the leader of a southern secessionist group.

Hasan Baoum is accused of planning illegal demonstrations.

A Dalea official said a group of protesters broke away and made an attempt to break into a local prison, but were driven off by police.

Hours after the protest, gunmen threw a grenade at a military vehicle at a checkpoint, setting it ablaze and wounding four soldiers. Two gunmen, suspected separatists, were wounded in the attack, a security official in Dalea said.

Many in the south, home to most of impoverished Yemen's oil facilities, complain of discrimination by a government that freely exploits the area's resources.

The Arabian Peninsula state is under international pressure to quell domestic conflicts like the southern separatist movement and firm up a shaky truce with north Shi'ite rebels so it can focus on fighting a resurgent wing of al-Qaeda, which experts say is exploiting the country's instability.

North and south Yemen united in 1990 under President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is still the president today. The bumpy merger led to a brief civil war in 1994 won by the north.

Yemen surged to the forefront of Western security concerns over the past year. Last month, Dubai and Britain intercepted US-bound parcel bombs sent from Yemen and claimed by al-Qaeda's Yemen-based regional wing.