Arrest in Yemen of Hassan Baoum sees thousands protest

Demonstrators demand release of head of Southern Movement's supreme council arrested at army checkpoint outside town of Daleh.

ADEN // Thousands of people demonstrated in south Yemen today, demanding the release of Hassan Baoum, the main leader of the southern opposition in the country, witnesses said.

Mr Baoum was arrested late last night along with several other people, including one of his sons, at an army checkpoint outside the southern town of Daleh, a security official told AFP.

He said the opposition leader was "planning to hold unauthorised protests in a number of southern provinces."

Mr Baoum heads the supreme council of the Southern Movement, the main organiser of protests in southern Yemen. The movement's members want either independence or increased autonomy for the south.

The Southern Movement issued a statement calling for protests across Yemen's southern provinces against Mr Baoum's arrest. Thousands of people took to the streets in Daleh, setting ablaze tyres, witnesses said.

Mr Baoum was previously an official in the Yemen Socialist Party, the former ruling party of south Yemen.