Three dead in south Yemen clashes

AFP, Thursday 16 Dec 2010

Two soldiers and a southern militant were killed in armed clashes on Thursday in south Yemen's Lahij province, the defense ministry's news website said.

Eight others -- five soldiers, two militants and a civilian -- were wounded in the clashes that occurred during an attempt to arrest Abbas Tanbaj, the militant who was killed.

Earlier, a security official said two soldiers in civilian clothes were pursuing a "militant wanted by the security services who was riding a motorcycle" in the town of Habilayn.

The soldiers opened fire on the militant, killing him, after which gunmen arrived and shot them, the official said.

"The bodies of two soldiers were admitted to the hospital in the town along with two wounded" southern activists, a medical official said.

The Southern Movement, whose members want either independence or increased autonomy for the south, usually holds protests on Thursdays demanding the release of detained activists.

South Yemen, where many residents complain of discrimination in the distribution of resources on the part of the Sanaa government, was independent from 1967 until it joined with the north in 1990.

The region seceded in 1994, sparking a brief civil war that ended with it overrun by northern troops.

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