x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Yemen frees 19 repentant separatists

The government has released 19 members of the separatist Southern Movement after they pledged support to the unity of the country.

SANA'A // The Yemeni government released yesterday 19 members of the separatist Southern Movement. Yaser al Yamani, the deputy governor of Lahj province, said the release came after the detainees made a petition in writing to Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, that they would support the unity of the country. The detainees "pledged ? they would stand along with all Yemenis against riots and sabotage activities, hatred, terrorism and that they would defend the unity" of the country, Mr al Yamani told reporters at Sabir central prison.

The activists were detained in February and March after riots and violent protests in al Hawttah city, the capital of Lahj province, where the government has faced increasing secessionist protests in recent months. Dozens of people have been arrested across the south over violent protests in which dozens were killed and wounded. On Saturday, one soldier was killed and four injured when gunmen ambushed a military convoy carrying Rashad al Alimi, a deputy prime minister, in the province's Habileen district.

On Saturday, the country will mark the 20th anniversary of the union of North and South Yemen. Southerners have complained of being marginalised, particularly since they lost the 1994 civil war. malqadhi@thenational.ae