At least nine people were killed in a pair of clashes in southern Yemen this weekend, including four police who were killed in an ambush by separatists. Officials were quick to blame both the separatists and al-Qaeda for the attacks.
Though the two groups operate in roughly the same region of Yemen, the southern separatist movement (which is totally distinct from the Shi’ite separatist movement in the north) are ideologically unrelated to al-Qaeda, and are generally the remnant of support for the former Soviet-backed nation of South Yemen.
The clashes have been on the rise over the past few weeks, displacing large numbers of civilians. Local supporters of the separatist movement have complained that the government is using al-Qaeda as a pretext for attacks against them, while generally ignoring al-Qaeda’s operations.
Yet Yemen has also been touting the arrests of “al-Qaeda suspects” in the area, and recent pressure from the Obama Administration, including renewed talk of US attacks in the nation, have Yemeni officials again looking to prove that they can handle their increasing security challenges themselves.