Southern militants opposed to Yemen’s single candidate presidential election next week exchanged fire with police outside a polling station late Friday, leaving three civilians wounded, residents said.
Supporters of the Southern Movement opened fire on the polling station in the Dar Saad neighborhood of the region’s main city Aden as part of their campaign to disrupt the vote, in which veteran Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi is the sole candidate.
A woman was among the wounded, the residents said.
Security forces also arrested four armed militants of the Southern Movement in Aden on Friday evening as they were handing out pamphlets calling for a boycott of the vote, a security official said.
Security has been bolstered in Aden in the run-up to the election, with police deployed to guard polling stations and extra checkpoints set up on main roads, an AFP correspondent reported.
Separately, the U.N. envoy to Yemen urged everyone to turn out for the vote.
“We invite all parties to participate in the election,” Jamal Benomar told journalists on Saturday as he arrived in Sana’a to monitor the poll.
“No one should be excluded from the political process,” he added, saying he had made this point to the Southern Movement and to Zaidi Shiite rebels in the north of the country.
On Friday Yemeni government forces detained 10 al Qaeda-linked fighters, after an attack in a town that underscored the security challenges of next week’s presidential election.
Separately, oil pipeline workers returned to work after a 10-day strike which had shut down oil exports, Yemeni officials and Norwegian energy firm DNO said.
The strike had stopped Yemen’s oil exports, a further blow to the economy of the small oil producer whose government has faced a year of protests and challenges.
Weakened by the upheaval, Yemen’s government has lost control of swathes of the country, giving al-Qaeda’s regional Yemen-based wing room to expand its foothold near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.