SIX people including four policemen were killed in overnight clashes in Yemen's tense south, where a separate Qaeda-style ambush killed a tribal chief and his two bodyguards, local and tribal officials told AFP.
Four policemen and two militants were killed as fighting between Yemen's security forces and separatists intensified late Saturday in Habilayn in the southern province of Lahij, medics and local officials told AFP.
In an earlier Saturday tally, several officials told AFP that two policemen and a militant were killed in the clashes.
Violent fighting broke out Saturday at dawn after security forces put up a checkpoint outside Habilayn, pitting Yemen's army against militants from the Southern Movement, a local official had said.
"The situation is tense in Habilayn and government forces had to withdraw the reinforcements dispatched to the area," said residents contacted by AFP today.
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Separately, a chief from the Al-Fadl tribe, Sheikh Hussein Saleh Mashdal, was killed in an overnight ambush with his two bodyguards in Abyan, another southern province, a security official said. The official, who refused to be named, blamed the attack on al-Qaeda.
Mashdal was "leading the mediation between the authorities and alleged Qaeda militants" in the city of Loder, one of his relatives told AFP.
Deadly clashes in Loder between suspected Al-Qaeda militants and the army last month left at least 33 people, including 19 militants, 11 soldiers, and three civilians dead, according to an AFP tally based on official and medical sources.
South Yemen, where many residents complain of discrimination by the Sanaa government in the allocation of resources, was independent from 1967 until 1990 when it united with the north. It launched an abortive secession bid in 1994.
The Southern Movement is a mix of secessionists and those who seek greater autonomy for the region.
Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country and the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, is struggling to combat an Al-Qaeda resurgence.