Soldiers and police shot dead at least four pro-secessionist protesters and wounded over a dozen others in southern Yemen Thursday where thousands had taken to the streets to mark the anniversary of the ouster of former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, local media reported.
The country’s online news site Aden al-Ghad  identified one of the victims as Bakil Ali Sa’id. Witnesses told the site that snipers from the rival Islah movement had also opened fire on demonstrators, wounding several.
The Sada Aden News Network identified another victim  as Abdallah al-Amoudi. The identities of the other two victims remain unknown.
Security forces shot at them during anti-government rallies in the Krayter district of the port city of Aden.
Amateur video posted online showed an armored military vehicle driving slowly past one of the protest sites before abruptly stopping. A few seconds later several soldiers climbed out of the vehicle and opened fire on the unarmed protesters.
Yemen’s secessionist movement emerged following unification in 1990 that brought the previously divided northern and southern nations under control of the Sanaa government.
A brief civil war ensued between the two sides in 1994 after the south declared independence, but the territory was soon overtaken by northern troops.
Southern residents have continued to push for secession, complaining of discrimination by the northern Sanaa government headed by Saleh following the 1990 union.
Saleh was forced to step down when a popular anti-government uprising swept the country in 2011. Saleh was replaced by his vice-president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour, in February 2012.
But Saleh was granted immunity from prosecution in the Gulf-brokered deal that led to his removal, angering many of his opponents. He is still widely seen as an influential figure working behind the scenes.