South Yemen clashes raise tensions, threaten vote


Security forces and armed southern separatists clashed Monday in Yemen’s port city of Aden, witnesses said, as rising tensions in the country’s south threatened to disrupt Tuesday’s presidential vote. Troop reinforcements with dozens of armoured vehicles arrived in Aden from the capital Sanaa late on Sunday to reassure voters after hardline members of the separatist Southern Movement threatened violence on election day, security officials said. Witnesses said government troops and armed separatists exchanged fire mid-morning on Monday in the Mansura neighbourhood of Aden, a stronghold of the movement, where a mass protest against the poll was expected later in the day.
There were no immediate reports of casualties. Authorities are taking pre-emptive action, with a security official saying that police on Sunday and Monday had carried out “arrest raids on armed hardliners” from the Southern Movement who were trying “by force to prevent citizens from participating in the elections.” “These elements are trying to create a state of fear among citizens by spreading rumours that February 21 (election day) will see acts of violence,” the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.