Yemeni tribesmen kill militant leader in south

(Reuters) – Armed Yemeni tribesmen said on Wednesday they had killed a militant leader in the country’s south during a campaign by tribal and government forces to retake areas seized by Islamist fighters in the crisis-ridden Arabian Peninsula state.

Seven months of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule have paralyzed Yemen, plunging it into a crisis that has loosened army control over swathes of the fractious, impoverished state.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have both been targeted by al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing and fear that a power vacuum in the Arab world’s poorest country could present a major threat to international security.

Islamist militants who the government says belong to al Qaeda have exploited the upheaval to expand their foothold in the south, taking over at least two cities in the volatile southern province of Abyan including its capital Zinjibar.