ADEN, Yemen — Thousands of people set car tyres ablaze and vandalised property in several areas of the southern Yemen city of Aden on Monday in protest at a power cut, an AFP journalist and local officials said.
Residents of impoverished south Yemen face daily power cuts, and every day a different district in the Aden region loses an hour of electricity a day.
But as temperatures soared to around 40 degrees Celsius (101 Fahrenheit) on Monday evening, Aden’s eight districts were all plunged into darkness at the same time.
This triggered widespread protests, with violence reported in Aden and gunfire heard in the districts of Khor Maksar, Al-Mansura, Sheikh Osman and Dar Saed, the sources said.
In Khor Maksar “protesters broke into Muftah Aden hotel and smashed its front glass door,” hotel owner Mansur al-Sharabi told AFP by telephone.
Hundreds of protesters also set tyres alight in Al-Mualla and Crater, local officials and witnesses said.
When police tried to disperse the crowds, they were peppered with stones, the sources added. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
“The people of the south are already tense and the power cuts only added to the tension, triggering protests,” a leader of the separatist Southern Movement, Yahya Ghaleb al-Shuaybi, told AFP by telephone.
South Yemen, where residents complain of discrimination by the Sanaa government in the allocation of resources, is frequently the scene of unrest.
The south was independent from 1967 until 1990 when it united with the north. It launched an abortive secession bid in 1994 and is still home to an active secessionist movement.
Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, has also been struggling to combat an Al-Qaeda resurgence as well as Shiite unrest in the north.