Yemen official: Clash at market in tense south leaves 13 dead, including 10 soldiers

SAN'A, Yemen (AP) — A clash between troops and civilians at a market in Yemen's restive south on Friday left 13 people dead, including 10 soldiers, a security official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media, said the fighting erupted after military vehicles drove into a market in the town of Lawdar in the southern Abyan province.

The move set off a quarrel with the townspeople that eventually escalated into an exchange of gunfire. The official said three of the townspeople died in the clash and one military vehicle was set ablaze.

No more details about the clash were immediately available. Lawdar is 155 miles (250 kilometers) southeast of the capital, San'a.

South Yemen 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 ending since the two sides agreed to a cease-fire in February, although clashes have occasionally erupted.

Southerners who joined a unified Yemeni in 1990 have started a political movement demanding secession from the north, and accuse the northerners of marginalizing them.