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Yemeni police forces break up pro-separatism protest, one demonstrator killed

(Xinhua)

08:47, February 24, 2012

ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- At least one protester was killed and five others were injured Thursday evening when Yemeni police forces tried to break up a pro-separatism rally in the southeastern province of Hadramout, witnesses said.

Witnesses told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that police fired live ammunition and tear gas in an attempt to break up a rally by hundreds of pro-separatism demonstrators in the coastal city of al-Mukalla, Hadramout's provincial capital, killing at least one protester and injuring five others.

"The attack occurred while we were organizing a peaceful march to mourn protesters killed earlier this week and to demand the immediate release of our southern detainees," Ahmed Baharoon, a youth activist, told Xinhua.

However, a senior police officer denied accusation of firing live bullets at the separatist demonstration in downtown al- Mukalla city. "Gunmen standing behind the pro-secession rally started firing gunshots toward our police patrol, but the police didn't fire at all, the patrol quit the area instantly," the official said anonymously.

Heavy gunshots still could be heard in al-Mukalla's neighborhood, according to local residents.

A number of Yemen's southern and eastern provinces experienced during the past two days deadly armed clashes and acts of violence, when anti-government groups interrupted the one-candidate presidential election which took place on Tuesday.

South and north Yemen unified peacefully in 1990, but the relationship deteriorated by 1994, when a southern insurgency was quelled in a civil war. Calls for separation in the country's southern regions were renewed in 2007.

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