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Yemeni security forces disperse separatist protest in Aden, 2 killed

ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni security forces fired live ammunition to disperse thousands of pro-secession protesters in the southern port city of Aden on Friday, killing two people and injuring 20 others, witnesses and police source told Xinhua.

The massive rally organized by secessionist leaders was dispersed following clashes that left about two people dead and up to 20 others injured in Aden's Public Square, the local police source said on condition of anonymity.

"Aden's security authorities ordered to ban the pro-secession demonstration by closing all roads and setting up military checkpoints around the city's entrances," the source said.

"But the secessionist activists attempted to march into Khor Maksar's Public Square despite the heavy security presence in the diplomatic neighborhood. Violent clashes erupted later," he added.

One of the secessionist protest organizers told Xinhua anonymously saying that "security soldiers backed by snipers opened fire at protesters who called for Feb. 21 March of millions for southern independence in Aden."

North and South Yemen unified peacefully in 1990, but the relationship deteriorated in 1994. Calls for separation in the country's southern regions were renewed in 2007.

Southerners have been complaining of being marginalized, particularly since they lost a four-month civil war in 1994. Pro-secession protests are on the rise in the south amid a worsening economic situation and allegations of discrimination in favor of northerners.

Concerns have increased since the conflicts in southern Yemen are creating instability where al-Qaida could gain foothold.

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