Riots rock Yemen

Tanks have been deployed in parts of southern Yemen after a fifth day of angry protests by thousands of mostly young people. Youth are blocking roads and burning tires, and up to 100 have been arrested. In al-Dalea, two police station were torched, and military vehicles burned, while riot police fired into the air and used tanks against street barricades. In response, armed protesters threw up roadblocks on the main road between the capital, Sanaa, and the port of Aden, halting traffic.

The unrest started in the Radfan region of al-Dalea province March 30 and spread the next day to the province of Lahj. President Ali Abdullah Saleh called an emergency meeting of the National Defense Council on April 3. Al-Dalea residents report that one of at least 14 people wounded had died. The official Saba news agency said April 2 there were no fatalities.

Rising food prices helped trigger the protests. The price of wheat has doubled since February, while rice and vegetable oil have gone up 20%. Disaffection in southern Yemen has been long-standing following the civil war of 1994, in which the south lost its independence. Southerners say a government amnesty granting former southern soldiers re-admission to the army has not been fulfilled, and that they are kept out of government jobs. (Reuters, April 3; BBC, April 1)

See our last posts on Yemen and the peak food crisis.