Hundreds of riot police fired bullets and tear gas Saturday to disperse thousands of retired officers and soldiers in southern Yemen who were demanding to be allowed back into the military, police and protesters said.
The protest, which was the second of its kind in the past month, underlined growing tensions between southern and northern Yemen 13 years after a civil war. The demonstrators were largely members of the army of south Yemen who were ousted after being defeated by northern forces.
According to the AP, the Yemeni government deployed dozens of armored vehicles Saturday and sealed off several roads in the southern port city of Aden where the protest was held, according to a police official.
The security measures were meant to prevent additional people from joining the rally. During the first protest in early August, one person was reportedly killed and about 1,000 detained when thousands of demonstrators marching toward downtown Aden clashed with police. The government said it had responded to the former military personnel's demands by allowing more than 7,000 of them back into the army, but Abdu al-Muatari, the spokesman for the retired officers, called the move only a partial solution.
Protesters have also complained that the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh is ignoring complaints by southerners of discrimination at the hands of the northerner-dominated leadership.