Thousands of Yemenis rallied yesterday across the south of the country to mark the 45th anniversary of independence from British occupation and demand autonomy from the north.

The calls for an autonomous state in the south – which was once a separate country – have compounded Yemen's many problems as the impoverished nation struggles with a resurgent al-Qaeda and a deep political crisis.

Yemeni security forces have cracked down on southerners' protests since 2007, though no major violence was reported yesterday.

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