Page last updated at 07:47 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 08:47 UK

Deadly clashes hit southern Yemen

Yemen map

At least 12 people have been killed in clashes between armed separatists and government forces in southern Yemen, medics and witnesses say.

The protesters in the town of Zinjibar, in Abyan province, were demanding the release of detainees held during earlier disturbances.

Eyewitnesses said the security forces opened fire to disperse the crowds.

Many in southern Yemen complain of discrimination, while officials accuse the protesters of seeking secession.

Witnesses told the AFP news agency the demonstration was called by Tarek al-Fadhli, a local figure who supports independence for south Yemen from the north.

Analysts say there has been rising tension throughout the south in the past two years, as the southern independence movement gains strength.

It began two years ago when former southern military officials, forced into compulsory retirement, demanded higher pension payments.

The protesters have been accusing President Ali Abdullah Saleh of corruption and openly calling for independence from his government in the northern mountain capital, Sanaa.

Mr Fadhli - a prominent ally of President Saleh and a veteran of the jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan - switched sides and joined the southern independence movement in April.

Print Sponsor

Yemen country profile
07 Jun 11 |  Country profiles
Yemen opposition protest clashes
27 Nov 08 |  Middle East
Yemen faces new Jihad generation
17 Sep 08 |  Middle East
Yemen 'faces crisis as oil ends'
20 Nov 08 |  Middle East
Yemen's khat habit soaks up water
07 Apr 07 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Yemeni women sign up to fight terror
02 Apr 07 |  Middle East
Yemen fears return of insurgency
05 Feb 07 |  Middle East
In pictures: Inside Yemen
12 Oct 05 |  In Pictures


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific