One protester killed in south Yemen clashes

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At least one protester was killed and five people injured, including two policemen, in clashes today between security forces and demonstrators in south Yemen, where secessionist sentiment has been on the rise.

"Some of the demonstrators were armed and shooting broke out," a local official told Reuters in the capital Sanaa by telephone about the clashes in the southern city of Dhale.

Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, has been battling a wave of al Qaeda attacks, as well as a Shi'ite Muslim rebellion in its north and rising secessionist sentiment in the south over marginalisation. The violence has raised Western fears that Yemen could become a new haven for Islamic militants.

On Thursday, at least eight people were killed in clashes between security forces and armed men at an opposition gathering in south Yemen which was held to demand the release of those arrested during earlier protests.

On Friday, Shi'ite rebels killed three soldiers and abducted another after ambushing their vehicle in north Yemen.

Meanwhile, a senior government official said Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hospitalised on Tuesday after being injured while exercising, was out of hospital and would resume his duties on Saturday.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has said it fears instability in Yemen could allow it to become a launch pad for a revival of a 2003-2006 campaign by al Qaeda militants to destabilise the U.S.-allied government.