Southern separatists clash with Yemen security forces

SANAA, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Clashes broke out in south Yemen on Monday between security forces and southern separatists, witnesses said.

They said shelling and gunfire continued for over an hour in the town of Zinjabar in Abyan province around the house of a relative of Tareq al-Fadhli, a leading figure in an opposition grouping called the "Southern Movement".

It was the first report of violence in the south in over a month after several clashes earlier this year which resulted in deaths. Southerners say they have been marginalised politically and economically since unification in 1990.

Former leader of the south Yemeni republic Ali Salem al-Beidh, in exile in Germany, addressed a rally of southern separatists by telephone this month declaring solidarity with northern rebels who have taken up arms against Sanaa.

In August the government of veteran ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh launched Operation Scorched Earth in a bid to crush a rebellion by Shi'ite Zaydi Muslims in North Yemen who also complain of marginalisation, seek autonomy and want an end to Saleh's rule.

Yemen also faces a resurgent al Qaeda movement which has staged attacks on government and foreign targets over the past two years.

The United States and neighbouring Saudi Arabia have expressed concern about instability in Yemen, an impoverished country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

Reporting by Mohammed al-Mukhashaf; editing by Robin Pomeroy