Beidh Letter Demands Northern Yemenis Leave Aden
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ Yemen’s separatist leader broke the silence he had maintained since fleeing into exile, demanding Sunday that government forces withdraw from the southern Yemeni city of Aden.
In a letter, Ali Salem al-Beidh accused northern troops of torture and killings in Aden, the former secessionist stronghold.
The four-page letter, a copy of which was sent to The Associated Press by facsimile from the separatists’ exile base in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, demanded an unconditional pullout of northern forces from Aden. It was addressed to Arab, Islamic and other world leaders.
Co-signed by other separatists, the letter called for negotiations with the northern government.
It was the first apparent communication from the southern leader since separatist forces surrendered Aden to government troops on July 7, ending nine weeks of civil war believed to have killed thousands.
Beidh and other separatist leaders fled to Oman shortly before Aden fell. An Omani official later assured Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh that Beidh had retired from politics.
Dr. Hazem Shukri, an associate of Beidh deputy Abdel-Rahman al-Jifri, dismissed those reports as rumors on Sunday.
Relief workers report shortages of water, medicine and food in Aden, a city of 350,000, but there have been no reports of torture by government troops.
On Saturday, the government extended an overnight curfew in Aden from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., saying it needed to curb looting. Secessionist leaders claimed the move was aimed at quashing resistance.