A man was killed Tuesday when a bomb exploded as he was planting it in a polling booth in Yemen’s southern city of Aden, a security official said, a week ahead of referendum-like presidential elections.
“An unknown man trying to plant an explosive device in a polling booth in the neighborhood of Crater... was killed when it exploded,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Security forces were swiftly deployed across Crater, especially near election committees’ headquarters, the official told AFP.
“We cannot accuse anyone yet but the extremist factions of the (separatist) Southern Movement led by (Yemen Socialist Party’s former leader) Ali Salem al-Baidh are trying to hamper the elections,” he said.
Activists from the Southern Movement who say the Feb. 21 election fails to meet their aspirations for autonomy or southern independence, have been campaigning for a boycott of the election, while Baidh’s followers openly call for actions to prevent the poll from taking place at all.
The elections are taking place under a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal under which President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to hand power to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his aides.
On Thursday, security forces shot dead two southern activists during a protest in the southern town of Daleh against the presidential election, witnesses and activists said.
The protesters had marched towards the headquarters of the electoral committee in Daleh in an attempt to drive its members out of the city when security forces opened fire.
Residents in the formerly independent southern region complain of discrimination by the Sana’a government in the distribution of resources since the north-south union in 1990.
The south broke away again in 1994, sparking a brief civil war that ended with the region overrun by northern troops.
Hadi, himself a southerner, is the sole consensus candidate in the election to succeed veteran strongman Saleh who is standing down after more than three decades in power following months of deadly protests.
Saleh has been in New York since late last month to receive medical treatment for wounds suffered in a June bombing at the presidential palace in Sana’a.
U.S. officials have said he will not return to Yemen until after the election but state news agency Saba reported last week that Saleh had told visitors he would “participate” in the poll.