Yemen arrests 14 suspected members of al-Qaida in southern raids

SAN'A, Yemen (AP) — Police arrested 14 suspected members of al-Qaida in a raid on one of the group's alleged hideouts in south Yemen, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry statement said the raid took place on Saturday night in Abyan province in the town of Lawder, 155 miles (250 kilometers) southeast of the capital where government troops have for weeks been battling what it describes as al-Qaida elements.

The statement added that further raids are planned in the area.

Elsewhere in south Yemen, gunmen from a separatist movement attacked an army post in Rabwa near the town of Habalein and killed four soldiers. Two of the attackers died as well.

Clashes between the military and separatists continued throughout the night, said officials on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The south was once a separate country and simmering tensions there have compounded Yemen's troubles as it struggles with a resurgent al-Qaida movement. Yemen is also the poorest country in the Arab world and home to heavily armed tribes that barely acknowledge the central government's authority.

The unrest in southern Yemen is separate from a six-year conflict in the country's north between government troops and Shiite rebels. That conflict appears to be drawing to a close since the two sides agreed to a cease-fire last month.

Southerners who joined a unified Yemeni 1990 have started a political movement demanding secession from the North, blaming the northerners for marginalizing them.

Al-Qaida has taken advantage of southern dissatisfaction with the government and established a presence in the remote region.