October 25, 2009 / 4:06 PM / 10 years ago

Two Yemeni soldiers killed in ambush in south

ADEN, Yemen, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Two Yemeni soldiers were killed and three others wounded in an ambush by gunmen in the south, where separatist sentiment is running high, a local news website said on Sunday.

The gunmen opened fire at the soldiers’ vehicle as they were accompanying the body of a fellow soldier killed in the government’s fight against a rebellion in the north, independent website Yemen News reported, citing Mahmoud Awas, the head of a local security unit.

Protests and attacks in the south coincide with a war in Yemen’s far north which broke out in August between the army and insurgents of the Zaydi Shi’ite sect.

Sunni Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, and its ally the United States, fear the unrest in Yemen may play into the hands of al Qaeda, which has become more active in Yemen and could exploit instability to carry out attacks.

The latest attack took place in the outskirts of the city of Dalea, witnesses said.

Earlier this month, five people, including three soldiers, were wounded in south Yemen when protesters marched to demand the release of comrades arrested in pro-separatist rallies.

South Yemen united with the north in 1990, but separatist sentiment has been on the rise in the south, where many people feel marginalised politically and economically, even though the region holds most of the poor Arab country’s oil resources. (Reporting by Mohammed al-Mokhashef; Writing by Inal Ersan; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

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