A Yemeni army officer and an enlisted soldier died from injuries incurred during recent clashes with southern militants in Lahij governorate, raising the total number of deaths to five, a security official said.
Security forces are pursuing the gunmen who killed four military personnel in clashes that erupted in the town of Habilayn in the governorate of Al-Dhalea, a security official said late Thursday according to Saba state news agency.
Serious unrest, which had been largely dormant since the Gulf 20 Tournament two weeks ago, reignited last week with the sentencing of alleged Southern partisans for the bombing of the al-Wahda stadium in October. Faris Abdullah Saleh received a death sentence for the crime, and his brother Ra’ed Abdullah Saleh five years in prison.
Armed men said to be loyal to the Southern Movement abducted six soldiers in the Southern towns of al-Dhalea and Habilayn, but promptly released them on condition that the government guarantee a fair appeals process to the convicts.
Habilayn was also the site of a Southernist protest which was forcibly dispersed during the recent Gulf 20 football tournament, where 70 protesters were detained by security forces.
Subsequent security operations had sparked further protests in neighbouring Lahij governorate in which three were killed outright, and two later died from injuries.
A source within the Southern Movement revealed to the National Yemen that the recent dead included Major Ali Ghanem al-Amari, who was assassinated in a qat market in the southern city of Radfan.
The defence ministry news website 26Sep.net had stated earlier that two soldiers were shot dead by militants after they killed Abbas Tanbah, a wanted member of the group.
Tanbah’s group, which security forces are pursuing, calls itself “The Saboteurs” (Al-‘Anasir Al-Taghreebiyya) and is composed of between 10-20 men who have been cutting off military transport routes to the South, a source in Lahij informed the National Yemen.
“The Saboteurs operate around the Radfan directorate,” the source added. Radfan lies in the North of Lahij governorate, which neighbours Habilayn, in the South of Al-Dhalea governorate.”
The 26Sep.net website also reported that eight others were wounded in t
he recent clashes in Lahij, including five soldiers, two militants, and one civilian.
The Southern Movement, whose members want either independence or increased autonomy for the South, usually hold protests every Thursday to demand the release of detained activists.