SANAA, Yemen – Thousands of Yemenis have rallied across the country's south 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-Qaida and a deep political crisis.
Southerners joined a unified Yemen in 1990 but demands for secession from the north persisted.
Yemeni security forces have cracked down on southerners' protests since 2007 but no major violence was reported Friday. Some participants at the rallies demanded secession.
Protests in the south also contributed to the sparks that ignited the Arab Spring uprising last year in Yemen, leading to the ouster of longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh.