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Anti-election riot erupts in southern Yemen before presidential polls, dozens injured

(Xinhua)

08:54, February 21, 2012

Security personnels stand guard in Sanaa, Feb. 20, 2012, a day before Yemen's one-candidate presidential election on Feb. 21. (Xinhua/Mohammed)

ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Armed clashes erupted Monday between Yemeni security forces and gunmen from the pro-secession Southern Movement in the country's southern regions, leaving dozens injured from both sides, police officers and witnesses told Xinhua.

Anti-government activists and militants launched campaigns to disrupt the upcoming presidential vote in the southeastern province of Shabwa by attacking several headquarters of the electoral committee and setting up fake checkpoints to prevent ballot boxes from entering their cities, according to witnesses and local residents.

The electoral committee building in Ataq city, Shabwa's provincial capital, was attacked by unknown gunmen believed to be linked to the Southern Movement after a short shootout with security forces, injuring at least 14 gunmen and five soldiers, a witness told Xinhua anonymously.

"The gunmen burned all the documents and ballot boxes in the electoral committee after the retreat of government troops stationed around the polling booth," the witness said, adding that "The whole building was set on fire."

In the neighboring southeastern province of Hadramout, security sources told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that gunmen imposed a tightened besiege on a number of headquarters of the electoral committee across the city.

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