x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Yemen gunmen capture three more soldiers

Strike comes after protests at death sentence for man found guilty of Aden bombings.

ADEN // Gunmen captured three soldiers and wounded five people in south Yemen today, local officials said, a day after southern activists said they sought to pressure the Yemen government into a prisoner exchange.

Thousands took to the streets of the town of Daleh to protest at a court ruling in nearby Aden on Saturday sentencing Fares Abdullah Saleh to death for the twin October 11 bombings of an Aden sports centre that killed three people.

Shortly after the ruling, gunmen in Daleh and Lahij kidnapped five soldiers yesterday, including two officers, local authorities said, revising downwards earlier reports on the number captured.

Three more soldiers, including an officer, were kidnapped today by gunmen who set up a checkpoint at the entrance to Daleh, said a local official who said the assailants were Southern Movement militants.

The officer, Ahmed al Ghithi, was traveling by taxi toward Aden when he was captured, said the official.

The Southern Movement, agitating for the south's independence or increased autonomy, has said Saturday's abductions were to pressure the authorities to free prisoners detained in advance of the Gulf Cup football tournament.

But the group has not confirmed its members abducted the soldiers today.

A security official said two soldiers were among four people wounded today as gunmen fired on a bus at the entrance to Daleh. In addition, Ahmed al Hashimi, a motorist, was shot in a residential area, local officials and witnesses said.

Residents said dozens of gunmen from the Southern Movement were forcing businesses in Daleh to close and motorists to keep off the roads.

Yesterday, hundreds of people protested in Daleh, a centre of frequent anti-government demonstrations, blocking off the main road and burning tyres in the town centre, witnesses said.

Gunmen also fired into the air and vowed revenge against authorities after the court ruling.