Yemeni intelligence official survives assassination try

Yemeni intelligence official survives assassination trySana'a, Yemen  - A senior Yemeni intelligence official survived an assassination attempt after gunmen ambushed his vehicle Wednesday in the southern province of Abyan, the Interior Ministry said.

The assailants sprayed the car of Major General Nasser Manour Hadi with gunfire in Zinjibar city, the provincial capital of Abyan, some 480 kilometres south of Sana'a, according a ministry source quoted by the state-run Saba news agency.

The unnamed source said that Hadi, deputy chairman of the intelligence agency for the south and brother of Vice President Abdu- Rabu Mansour Hadi, was not hurt in the attack, which left two of his bodyguards wounded.

He said the attackers, who managed to escape, were followers of Islamist leader Tariq al-Fadhli, a leading figure in the "Southern Movement" that calls for the south of Yemen to secede from the north.

"The perpetrators will not escape unpunished, and security apparatuses are now hunting them down," the source said, quoted by Saba.

Witnesses said the attack took place after a rally for supporters of the Southern Movement in Zinjibar demanding the release of southern activists arrested by authorities during previous anti- government protests.

Separately, a protester was killed, and 22 people, including nine police officers, were injured in clashes Wednesday in the southern city of Dhalea, local officials and witnesses said.

They said police clashed with armed protesters after they burst into offices of government agencies in the city.

Protesters carrying flags of the former southern Yemen and shouting anti-government slogans had previously marched in the city's streets to demand the release of southern activists, witnesses said.

Similar protests took place in three other southern cities but without reports on confrontations or casualties.

The Southern Movement has been organizing protests across the southern provinces of Yemen, calling for more rights for citizens in the south.

Violent anti-government protests have engulfed cities in Yemen's southern provinces in recent months, leaving dozens of casualties among both protesters and security forces amid claims by southerners that the central government exercises discriminatory policies against them.

The violence highlights rising tensions between southern and northern Yemen, nearly 15 years after a civil war in 1994 that ended with the defeat of the southern military by northern forces led by President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

North and South Yemen were united in 1990. In 1994, southern leaders announced the secession of the south and battled northern forces led by Saleh for 10 weeks in a civil war that ended in their defeat. (dpa)