At least two people were killed and six others injured during clashes between the army and protesters marching towards a military base in Yemen's southern port city of Aden Wednesday, a government official told Xinhua.
"The pro-secession protesters marched toward an army base located near the main protest camp of the separatist movement in Aden's district of Khor Maksar, sparking a short shootout in the area," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"Two people were killed during the random shooting and six others injured. Heavy and medium weapons were used in the clashes," the official said.
Another security official said that the army troops around the base dispersed the crowds by firing tear gas only. However, some unknown armed men among the protesters responded by firing live bullets on the soldiers.
On Oct 14, tens of thousands of southern Yemenis took to the streets in Aden, demanding the secession of the formerly independent south as they celebrated the anniversary of independence from British occupation in 1963.
Several factions of the pro-secession Southern Movement have promised to indefinitely set up a large tent camp in Aden to press for the south's independence.
North and South Yemen united peacefully in 1990, but their relationship deteriorated in 1994. Calls for separation in the country's southern regions renewed in 2007. The southerners have been complaining about being marginalised, particularly since they lost a four-month civil war in 1994.
Pro-secession protests in the south are on the rise amid a worsening economic situation and allegations of discrimination in favour of the northerners. Concerns have grown since the conflicts in south Yemen are causing instability, in which the Yemen-based Al Qaeda offshoot could gain foothold.