A group of secessionist gunmen launched an armed attack against a government compound in southern Yemen on Monday, killing three soldiers and wounding six others, a provincial security official told Xinhua.
"The gun battle occurred after secessionist attackers raided the local government building in the southern province of al- Dhalea," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"The army forces engaged in fierce fighting with secessionist group members in and around the government compound. All kinds of weapons were used in the clashes," the security source said.
A source at the public hospital in al-Dhalea province said the bodies of the three dead soldiers were in its mortuary and six other soldiers were seriously wounded.
A witness who declined to give his identity said the pro- secession gunmen opened heavy fire at the soldiers and tried to take over the local government headquarters.
Several government and public offices in al-Dhalea were also attacked and looted by secessionist gunmen across the city, according to the witness.
The armed attacks came two days after the eruption of unrest and secessionist protests in southern Yemen, which reportedly left at least five people dead in Aden and Hadramout provinces.
North and South Yemen were unified peacefully in 1990, but their relationship deteriorated in 1994. Southerners have been complaining of being marginalized. Pro-secession protests are on the rise amid a worsening economic situation and allegations of discrimination in favor of northerners.