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Gunmen attack polling stations in south Yemen

Associated Press Modified: February 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm •  Published: February 20, 2012

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Gunmen attacked three polling stations in Yemen's restive south, officials said, a day before the country is to go to the polls to rubber stamp its vice president as the new head of state after 33 years of one-man rule.

A total of four people were reported killed in clashes across the country. The violence underlines the security vacuum in the Arabian peninsula's poorest country after a one-year popular uprising seeking to oust longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Under a U.S.-backed deal brokered by Yemen's Gulf Arab neighbors, Saleh's deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, is to become president after a vote Tuesday in which he is the only candidate.

Posters and huge banners brandishing Hadi's photo and urging Yemenis to cast ballots have appeared throughout the capital Sanaa as voting day approaches. Thousands of people attended an electoral rally early Monday in support of the vice president.

Hadi, a low-profile figure who served under Saleh for years, did not attend the event and has rarely addressed the public. Still, many Yemenis who originally opposed the deal that will bring Hadi to power now support the move merely because it will officially end Saleh's 33-year rule.

Security has collapsed across Yemen during the uprising, with security forces regularly using lethal force against protesters and clashing with various armed groups. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have struggled to ensure a smooth transition in hopes that Yemen will continue to cooperate in fighting the country's al-Qaida branch, which has carried out attacks in the U.S.

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