November 1, 2009 / 10:46 AM / 11 years ago

Yemen soldier dead in clash with Islamist militants

ADEN, Yemen, Nov 1 (Reuters) - A soldier was killed and a man was wounded in south Yemen in clashes with Islamist militants when members of the so-called Jihad Group attacked government buildings and blocked roads, a local official said.

Western countries and neighbouring Saudi Arabia, fear that insurrection in north Yemen and separatist sentiment in the south is creating instability that al Qaeda will exploit.

The clash took place after security forces arrested a militant suspect in the town of Ja’ar in Abyan province, the official said late on Saturday.

The town has seen similar incidents in the past.

It was not clear if any of the Islamists were connected to al Qaeda, which said earlier this year that its Saudi and Yemeni branches had merged to form Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil exporter, says many Saudi wanted militants are in Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries. One returned to Saudi Arabia in August pretending to have given up militancy but then tried to assassinate Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

Analysts say central government control is in danger of unravelling in the mountainous country of 23 million people. (Reporting by Mohamed Mokhashef; Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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