Sunday, August 19, 2012
Yemeni secessionist leader released
ADEN (Reuters) - A Yemeni southern secessionist leader who was arrested upon arrival in Aden from Britain on Wednesday said on Saturday he had been released by the security forces.
Ahmed Abdullah al-Hassani had been living abroad but Yemeni media reported last week that he was planning to return to meet other leaders of the southern secessionist movement in Aden, the capital of the former state of South Yemen.
He was then seized by a group of armed men who boarded the plane to arrest him, other separatist politicians said.
He told Reuters he had been released late on Saturday evening.
North and south Yemen unified in 1990 when the collapse of the Soviet Union undermined the communist south's economy, but political harmony was short lived and an attempted southern secession in 1994 prompted a brief civil war, won by the north.
Southern Yemenis have since complained of discrimination and an unequal division of national resources, and secessionist sentiment, aiming to build a socialist state, was spurred by the mood of popular protest that swept the Arab world last spring.
The Middle East's poorest country, where guns outnumber people by a ratio of three-to-one, is also grappling with an insurgency by al Qaeda sympathisers and a conflict in the north with the militant Houthi group of Zaydi Shi'ite Muslims.
Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled in north Yemen since 1978, was forced from power early this year after a year-long popular uprising that caused splits in the military and divided the country's powerful tribes.
(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alison Williams)
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