November 30, 2009 / 5:07 PM / 10 years ago

Yemeni forces deploy in Aden to curb separatists

* Soldiers line streets to stop separatist festival

* Rebels report new Saudi air raids in north

(Adds new Saudi air raids, southern leader remarks)

ADEN, Yemen, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Yemeni security forces spread out across the southern port city of Aden on Monday, clamping down on any display of secessionist sentiment on the anniversary of the south’s independence from Britain.

Residents said hundreds of soldiers lined the streets of Aden, where southern activists had been planning a festival to commemorate the day the last British soldier departed in 1967.

In the run-up to the anniversary several clashes erupted between the Sanaa government and southerners, who have long complained that northerners abused a 1990 unity agreement to exploit their resources and discriminate against them.

Southern activist websites said security forces had blocked off all entrances to Aden, where the authorities had told people not to hold gatherings or demonstrations without a permit.

Yemen’s government is already fighting a revolt in the north by minority Zaidi Shi’ites, who also complain of neglect and oppression. Neighbouring Saudi Arabia was recently drawn into the northern conflict when rebels seized some Saudi territory.

The rebels said on their website ( that Saudi Arabia renewed its air and missile attacks on several locations near the border early on Monday. They accused Saudi forces of using phosphorus bombs and poison gas in the attacks.

There was no immediate reaction from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, which fears growing instability in Yemen is giving al Qaeda an opportunity to strengthen its foothold there.

On Sunday, activists shot dead a soldier in the southern province of Shabwa. A second soldier died of wounds inflicted in fighting there on Wednesday, a security official said.

Secessionists also clashed with the armed forces in the Radfan region on Sunday, when one person was killed and a grenade hit the local intelligence headquarters, the same official said.

Members of the activist Southern Movement killed three northerners in two carjackings, the state-run website September 26 ( said. But the pro-southern website quoted Nasser al-Khabji, a leader of the movement, as denying its members were involved in the incidents.

Violence erupted this year after an April 28 opposition rally to mark the 1994 civil war in which President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s forces defeated the secessionist south, known before the unity deal as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.

Protests led by army officers, riled by their meagre pensions after forced retirement, turned violent in 2007.

Southern leaders have talked of northern "occupation" and called for secession amid mounting discontent over jobs and other economic grievances. (Reporting by Mohammed Mokhashaff and Mohamed Ghobari; writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; editing by Alistair Lyon and Tim Pearce) ((; +971 4 391 8031; Reuters Messaging:

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