Supporters of the separatist Southern Movement group march during a protest in the southern city of Dalea 12 December 2010. (Reuters)
A Yemeni army officer and an enlisted soldier have succumbed to their wounds, raising the death toll of clashes with southern militants in Lahij province to five, a security official said.
Security forces were still hunting for the gunmen who killed four military personnel in clashes that erupted in the town of Habilayn, a security official said late Thursday according to Saba state news agency. He said the dead included Major Ali Ghanem al-Amari.
The defence ministry news website 26Sep.net had said earlier that two soldiers were shot dead by militants after they killed Abbas Tanbaj, a wanted member of the group. It also reported eight others were wounded, including five soldiers, two militants and a civilian.
The Southern Movement, whose members want either independence or increased autonomy for the south, usually hold protests on Thursdays demanding the release of detained activists.
South Yemen, where many of the people 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 being overrun by northern troops.