Yemen frees 54 Shiite rebels, 18 anti-unity southerners

09:56, April 06, 2010      

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Yemeni security authorities set free 54 Shiite Houthi rebels captured during the latest round of fighting between the government troops and Houthi rebels in the northwest of the country, the nation's Interior Ministry said on Monday.

The detainees were held in a central prison in the western province of al-Hodeidah, said the ministry.

"The release of the 54 Houthi followers came upon high-level governmental directives," the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

The Yemeni government and Shiite Houthi rebels reached a ceasefire agreement on Feb. 11 on ending sporadic battles in northern Yemen which had started since 2004.

The Yemeni government accused Houthis of seeking to re- establish the clerical rule overthrown by the 1962 Yemeni revolution which yielded the Yemeni republic.

Meanwhile, in the southern troubled province of al-Dhalee, the center of independence-seeking Southern Movement, some 18 suspected followers of the Southern Movement were released on Monday by the security authorities.

The Interior Ministry said "the 18 southerners were detained on March 27 for involving in armed riots, anti-government activities and raising anti-unity flags in a funeral procession for a man killed in a separatist protest earlier last month."

Northern and southern Yemen were unified in 1990 according to a deal between the People's General Congress and the Yemeni Socialist Party. However, the deal fell apart, leading to a crisis between the two allies, which developed into a civil war in 1994.

Nowadays, voices rise in South Yemen where secessionist sentiments are simmering, calling for disengagement from the north and the restoration of the southern state.

Source: Xinhua


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