SANAA/ADEN, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Two Yemeni southern separatists were killed and dozens of others injured Monday in clashes between secessionist activists and pro-unity supporters celebrating the second anniversary of the start of protests that ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The clashes flared up in the southern port city of Aden after hundreds of pro-separatism activists broke into a rally of thousands of people who were marking the second anniversary of protests that erupted on Feb. 11, 2011, against Saleh's rule.
The celebrations were organized by the committee of the Youth Revolution and were also held in the capital Sanaa and other major cities.
"The separatist activists rejected the celebration... They clashed with hundreds of pro-unity Islamists of Muslim Brotherhood, known as Islah Party in Yemen, which is the main partner in the current transitional government," a police official in Aden told Xinhua by phone.
The separatist activists shouted that they would celebrate when their southern state was restored, and then engaged in clashes with the Islamists who were securing the celebration, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The two sides threw stones and sticks at each other. The riot police fired into the air to disperse the two sides, the official said, adding that "two separatists, including a young female activist identified as Haneen al-Kadhi, died of wounds and nearly 30 others were injured."
Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi wrote an article in the state-run daily Al-Thawra newspaper on Monday, in which he congratulated the "youths of the popular uprising" on the occasion of the anniversary.
"It's my pleasure today to extend congratulations to my young sons on the occasion of the second anniversary of Feb. 11 that witnessed the launch of the nationwide political change process across the country," Hadi wrote.
Hadi was elected in February 2012 as president after Yemeni rival parties signed in the Saudi capital of Riyadh a power transfer deal under which Saleh stepped down in return for a complete immunity from prosecution and handed over power to his then deputy Hadi following one-year deadly protests that killed more than 2,000 people.
The president has called for separatist groups in the country's southern regions to take part in the planned reconciliation national dialogue to settle disputes and promised to compensate them.
Separatist sentiment escalated after northern troops overran southern regions following a four-month civil war in 1994. Southerners complain of being economically and politically marginalized and discriminated.
Last week, Hadi announced that the government will hold the national dialogue on March 18 to solve disputes among political factions and pave the way for amending the constitution and preparing for presidential elections in 2014.
He said the planned reconciliation dialogue would be of strategic and historical importance that will outline the future for good governance and a modern civil unity state.
Yemen is struggling to complete the second phase of a two-year transitional period that will end in February 2014 under the power- transfer deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council and backed by the UN Security Council after the 2011 unrest.
Since he took office last year, Hadi has been trying to carry out major reforms in the war-torn country to accelerate the political reconciliation process, combat al-Qaida group and unify the south amid a political impasse affecting the transition.