Five hurt in south Yemen protests – reports

Source: Reuters

* Two protesters and three soldiers hurt in protests * Arab League head to visit Yemen in peace effort (Adds Arab League head to visit, paragraph 7) ADEN, Yemen, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Five people, including three soldiers, were wounded in south Yemen when protesters marched to demand the release of comrades arrested in pro-separatist rallies last week, witnesses and a news website said on Sunday. Witnesses said hundreds of supporters of the opposition Southern Movement marched to call for the release of those arrested in Wednesday’s protests in which at least one demonstrator was killed and eight wounded. The United States and Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil exporter, fear the unrest in Yemen may play into the hands of al Qaeda, which has become more active in Yemen and could exploit instability to carry out attacks. Independent website Yemen News said three soldiers trying to disperse demonstrators and two protesters were wounded in two separate marches. South Yemen united with the north in 1990, but separatist sentiment has been on the rise in the south, where many people feel marginalised politically and economically despite their region holding most of the poor Arab country’s oil resources. The protests in the south coincide with a war in Yemen’s far north which broke out in August between the army and insurgents of the Zaydi Shi’ite sect since early August. In Cairo, an Arab League spokesman said on Sunday the body’s secretary general, Amr Moussa, would travel to Yemen on Tuesday in an effort to help restore peace. “He is going to meet with President Ali Abdullah Saleh in an attempt to try to contain the situation,” Abdel Alim al-Abyad said. “There is a concern on his part and on the part of the Arab League to preserve the unity of Yemen.” Zaydis make up about one third of Yemen’s population of about 23 million people, mainly Sunni Muslims. The northern rebels say they face religious discrimination by Sunni fundamentalists who have gained in strength because of President Saleh’s close ties to Saudi Arabia, which adheres to a puritanical form of Sunni Islam. The rebels posted video footage on the Internet of a fighter plane they said they had shot down. State media said on Friday the plane flew into a mountain due to a technical fault. The video showed the remains of an aircraft burning in a field as dozens of men stood around shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest). There were low-lying hills in the distance. It showed the pilot’s identification card and a parachute he had tried to escape with. The pilot’s fate was not clear. “The location where the plane fell makes it clear that the plane exploded in the air with parts scattered around,” the rebels said on their website, adding they brought the plane down with an anti-aircraft gun. (Reporting by Mohammed al-Mokhashef; additional reporting by Alastair Sharp in Cairo; writing by Firouz Sedarat and Andrew Hammond)
spotted by RS

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