ADEN (Reuters) - Clashes broke out in south Yemen between anti-government protesters who blocked roads with burning tyres and security forces Wednesday, killing one protester and two soldiers, hospital and local officials said.
The clashes erupted in the port city of Aden when young protesters tried to enforce a general strike by piling rocks and burning tyres in roads leading to schools, a local government official said.
A doctor told Reuters one protester died and three were in critical condition from gunshot wounds. The local official said two soldiers were also shot dead, indicating that some protesters appeared to be armed.
A Reuters reporter said gunshots could still be heard around the city. Activists among the protesters have denied any ties to the gunmen exchanging fire with police.
“These armed men are not part of the peaceful protesters demanding the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the downfall of his regime,” one activist told Reuters.
Armed separatists are also active in southern Yemen, which was once a separate state, and there have been concerns they may try to exploit the growing protests in the region to renew their push for southern independence.
Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Cynthia Johnston