November 10, 2009 / 8:05 AM / 10 years ago

Yemen rebels say hold territory by Saudi border

* Yemen rebels say take full control of Qatabar directorate

* Instability on Saudi-Yemen border increases

By Mohamed Ghobari

SANAA, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Yemeni rebels said on Tuesday they had taken control of more territory on the border with Saudi Arabia, heightening concerns about growing instability so close to the world’s top oil exporter.

"Full control was taken last night over Qatabar directorate and control of all supplies and ammunition as well as buildings and other military sites," a rebel statement said.

Qatabar lies in the mountainous northern province of Saada where most recent fighting has taken place, and borders Saudi Arabia.

Yemeni officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it had regained control of Jabal Dukhan, which was seized by rebels last week in a cross-border incursion, after the kingdom launched air strikes on rebels in northern Yemen. [ID:nL8662403]

Saudi Arabia has become increasingly anxious about instability in Yemen, which is facing a Shi’ite insurgency in the north, separatist sentiment in the south and a growing threat from resurgent al Qaeda fighters.

The 1,500 km (930 miles) border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia is a security worry for the kingdom, which is building a high-tech border fence to prevent infiltration.

In the past few weeks Houthi rebels have accused Saudi Arabia of allowing Yemeni forces to use its territory as a base to launch attacks against them and threatened to respond.

Houthi rebels first took up arms against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government in 2004, citing political, economic and religious marginalisation by the Saudi- and Western-backed administration.

The conflict intensified in August when Yemen’s army launched Operation Scorched Earth.

Aid groups, which have been given limited access to the northern provinces, say up to 150,000 people have fled their homes since 2004. (Writing by Jason Benham; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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