Yemen police officer shot dead by secessionists

Filed on January 27, 2010

SANAA - Separatist gunmen shot dead a police officer in south Yemen, which has been rocked by violence and secessionist demonstrations for a week, a defence ministry website reported on Wednesday.

Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah al-Fakih was killed in “aggressions by armed separatist elements” against security forces on Tuesday afternoon, the website said.

Separatist activists fired at government vehicles, as well as civilian cars and shops, in the coastal town of Al-Ghaydah, 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) east of Sanaa, local sources told

Security forces arrested several people suspected of being involved in the killing of the police officer and violence, it added.

Separatists have been demanding independence for the formerly socialist South Yemen from the traditionalist North.

The latest unrest came a day after a policeman was crushed to death and 11 others wounded during a shootout with secessionist protesters in the southern city of Daleh. Witnesses said three children were also hurt.

Monday’s deadly violence flared amid a call for a general strike by the “Peaceful Movement for the Liberation of the South.”

The strike was called to spotlight the separatists’ demands ahead of an international conference that opens in London later on Wednesday to discuss the fight against Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

In a statement received by AFP, the movement urged the participants in the meeting to “force the Sanaa regime to withdraw its troops from the south and allow the people of the south to establish an independent state.”

Deadly violence has gripped the former South Yemen over the past week amid growing moves for independence.

South Yemen became an independent state following the end of British rule in 1967. It was reunited with the North in 1990.

Southerners seceded again in 1994, sparking a short-lived civil war that ended with the region overrun by northern troops.

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