Tribesmen killed three Yemeni soldiers in an assault on a military post yesterday, as a second day of confrontations sparked by a tribal chief’s death paralysed cities across the restive south.

The “tribesmen attacked with machineguns a checkpoint to the east of the town of Al Qotn, killing three soldiers and wounding others”, a day after they had warned the troops to leave, a local official said.

It came after police said armed clashes broke out in cities across southern Yemen, and medics said a militant wounded on Friday had died of his injuries.

Tension also spiked in northern Yemen, where the Sunni Islamist Al Islah party accused Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis of abducting one of its members as fighting raged.

In the eastern province of Marib, saboteurs blew up an oil pipeline for the third time this week, and tribesmen attacked soldiers escorting repair workers, officials said.

The latest bloodshed in the south came as schools and public offices were closed and shops shuttered on the second day of a week of protests launched over the death of tribal chief Said Ben Habriche.

Four Southern Movement militants and two policemen were wounded in a clash in Ataq, capital of Shabwa province, police said.

The militants seized a rapid intervention force vehicle and police had to repel gunmen who briefly took over a telecommunications centre and a clinic, security officials said.

In Huta, capital of Lahj province, a policeman and four passersby were wounded in a gunfight between Southern Movement militants and a patrol, sources said.

On Friday, a child and a militant were killed in the main southern city of Aden and in Mukalla, in southeast Yemen, medics and witnesses said.

And another southern militant, who was wounded when police opened fire after a precinct in Aden was attacked, died yesterday, medics said.

Ben Habriche was among six tribesmen killed on December 2 in fighting that erupted when his bodyguards refused to hand over their weapons to soldiers at a checkpoint. Two soldiers also died.

The tribal chief’s funeral was due to take place in Mukalla where the Southern Movement said its supporters had taken over the city’s police station “without clashes”.

Most Mukalla residents stayed indoors and traffic was at a virtual standstill because of barricades of rocks and burning tyres set up by militants on main roads, witnesses said.

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