Sana’a: 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 1,800km 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 Hussain 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 Qaida’s most active franchises, is a major security concern for Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and a main backer of Sana’a.
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 Qaida-linked militants trying to cross into Yemen after being released from a Saudi prison.
The threat is further exacerbated by the fact that Al Houthi rebels control much of the border regions, with whom Saudi Arabia fought a brief war in 2009.