Tension Grows In Aden

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Fuad Mussed & Yemen Times Staff Published:16-01-2012

ADEN, Jan. 15 – The Aden Free Zone Authority closed its offices in the city following a sit-in organized by protesting security officers and soldiers demanding plots of land on which to build their own houses.

Abd Al-Jaleel Al-Shuaibi, general director of the authority, said that the office was shut down after protesting officers stormed the Aden Free Zone headquarters and assaulted employees.

“This decision was taken in order to prevent any potential confrontations with protesting officers and soldiers, who are demonstrating in front of the authority building with their guns,” Al-Shuaibi said.

He explained that the situation has created unattractive situation for potential investment, which could help in reviving the economy.

“This provocative action by the security officers has made it difficult for our employees to perform their functions and for investors to finalize their projects,” he said.

Protesting soldiers are demanding that they receive plots of lands to live on in Aden, as well as financial allowances.

“The leadership of the Free Zone Authority can’t give anyone a plot of land unless the cabinet issues a decree for that. Our duty is only to distribute lands for investment projects. Furthermore, allowances must be endorsed by the Finance Ministry,” read a press release issued by the authority.

These developments took place amid increasing tension in the city over massive protests at government military and civil offices, as soldiers and employees demand higher incomes and the removal of their managers regarded as corrupt.

The general situation in Aden was further by escalated efforts on the part of the Southern Movement, which included a demonstration on Friday at the main square of Khawr Maksr and continued calls for independence for South Yemen.

Five Southern Movement demonstrators and two soldiers were killed when security forces dispersed those assembled at the square, said eyewitnesses. A further 20 civilians and six soldiers were injured after government forces opened fire, according to medical sources at Aden's Al-Jumhori and Al-Naqeeb hospitals.

Around 20 civilians and six other soldiers were injured after the government’s forces opened fire to end the demonstration, according to medical sources at Al-Jumhori and Al-Naqeeb hospitals in Aden.

Southern Movement demonstrators claimed that the security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas directly at those assembled at the square.

Political Security bus attacked

Two persons were killed in Aden on Wednesday, while seven others were left injured in an attack by unknown armed men against a bus carrying a number of political security officers and soldiers.

Security sources said that the two slain men are Basel Abdullah Al-Mahdi, a citizen of Aden, and Hani Mohamed Saleh, a solider from Aden's political security headquarters.

The armed men reportedly fired large amounts of ammunition at the bus, which sits near Khalifa School in Khawr Maksr, leading to the immediate death of the driver, thereby causing the bus to crash into the school's wall, leaving the rest of the soldiers, most of whom were new recruits, injured.

A source confirmed that the soldier’s death came as the result of a bullet wound. The soldier died on the way to the hospital.

Other local sources told the Yemen Times that bus was moving along a street, which leads to the airport. The armed attackers traveled in a Toyota Hi-Lux truck.

Following the incident, security was deployed throughout the city amidst high levels of discretion regarding the location of, and possible reasons behind, the attack.

Investigations into the attackers' identities are currently underway.

Nabeel Al-Amoodi, a political activist in Aden, told the Yemen Times: “Initial indications from the attack are that armed Al-Qaeda members using a Hi-Lux truck were brought in from neighboring Abyan Governorate.”

Al-Amoodi has already accused Islamic sharia law proponents – those who took over Abyan last May – of carrying out similar attacks in Aden, which resulted in the death of several soldiers.