Saudi border guards shoot Yemeni in border clash: tribal chief

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 20, 2013 7:43 AM
Saudi border guards shoot Yemeni in border clash: tribal chief

SANAA (Reuters) - Saudi border guards killed a Yemeni man and wounded another on Tuesday when they opened fire on a group of Yemeni tribesmen who attacked construction workers building Saudi Arabia's security fence on the border with Yemen, a tribal chief said.

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry, which is responsible for border security, denied that any clash had taken place on the border with Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, wary of traffickers and militants trespassing from Yemen, have been building a security fence along its 1,800 km (1,100 mile) border with the impoverished country since 2003.

The construction has been often halted by protesting Yemeni tribesmen, who say the fence prevents local tribes from reaching pastures for their livestock.

"We were caught by surprise this morning when construction of the fence had resumed," tribal chief Hussein Abu Dadra told Reuters.

"We fired on the construction company workers and the border guards fired back. We forced them to stop construction work."

Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki denied the report.

"There is nothing at the border. Everything is normal," he told Reuters.

Yemen, home to one of al Qaeda's most active franchises, is a major security concern for Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter and a main backer of Sanaa.

The kingdom views the volatile border, plagued by sandstorms, drought, gun runners and drug smugglers, as a major threat to its security.

Last year, two Saudi border guards were killed by al Qaeda-linked militants trying to cross into Yemen after being released from a Saudi prison.

The threat is further exacerbated by the fact that Shi'ite Muslim Houthi rebels control much of the border regions, with whom Saudi Arabia fought a brief war in 2009.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Additional reporting by Angus McDowall in Riyadh; Writing by Mahmoud Habboush)