ADEN, Yemen — A top policeman was shot dead on Thursday and three other people including two soldiers were killed in separate incidents in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, security officials said.
Abdullah al-Baham was shot in the head in Mudia in Abyan province during clashes between armed demonstrators and security forces who were trying to disperse them, a security official told AFP.
The protest in Mudia, east of Abyan's capital Zinjibar, which has been a focus of separatist sentiment in the south, was to mark the 47th anniversary of the launch of Yemen's uprising against British colonial rule.
The security official blamed the shooting on supporters of the Southern Movement, a coalition of autonomist and pro-independence groups.
But Southern Movement official Abbas al-Assal denied its supporters were involved in the shooting, saying it was carried out by a masked man "who belongs to Al-Qaeda."
Assal accused security forces of "firing on peaceful protesters," adding: "We are peaceful and reject violence."
Mudia police told AFP that officers had surrounded the house of a suspected Al-Qaeda member implicated in the killing of the local police chief.
He accused both Al-Qaeda and the Southern Movement of attacking security officials in Abyan.
The Sanaa government has occasionally accused the Southern Movement, a coalition of secessionist and autonomist groups, of allying with Al-Qaeda, a charge the movement denies.
Separately, militants ambushed a military convoy on Thursday, killing one soldier and wounding several others in the town of Nahila, between Mudia and Loder where intense clashes are continuing between suspected Al-Qaeda militants and the army, another security official told AFP.
A doctor at Loder hospital, Ali Mohammed Naser, put the death toll higher. "Two dead and four wounded soldiers were brought into the hospital," he said.
Clashes in Loder killed 33 people in August, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
Meanwhile, Abyan Governor Ahmed Mohammed al-Maisari narrowly escaped an ambush on his convoy on Thursday that killed two people, a soldier and an official from the ruling party in Sanaa, officials close to the governor said.
The convoy of Maisari and Abyan provincial police chief Khaled al-Mirwani came under fire twice near Mudia, the officials said.
Both were unhurt, but the attack killed a member of Yemen's ruling party, Ali Mohammed al-Maisari, and a soldier and wounded three others, they said, adding that reinforcements have been sent to Mudia.
On Thursday Colonel Riyadh al-Khatabi, the intelligence chief for Seiyun in Hadramawt province farther east, died of his wounds after being attacked by gunmen on a motorcycle on Wednesday, a medical official said.
Another intelligence officer, Abdul Aziz Abdullah Bashraheel, was shot dead on October 8 in Foha, west of the Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla, a security official said.
And on Monday, two attackers on a motorbike in Zinjibar gunned down Ghazi al-Samawi who featured on an Al-Qaeda hit list of policemen to be targeted, a security official said.
South Yemen was independent from British withdrawal in 1967 until it united with the north in 1990. The region seceded in 1994, sparking a brief civil war that saw it overrun by northern troops.
Many residents complain of discrimination on the part of the Sanaa government, and there have been mounting protests by the Southern Movement.
The region has also seen a growing number of attacks by suspected Al-Qaeda militants, who have taken advantage of popular opposition to the central government.
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