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Saudi Troops Killed In Yemen Rebel Clashes

DUBAI (Reuters) -- Three Saudi soldiers were killed and an unspecified number wounded as they fought to stop new cross-border raids by Yemeni rebels, the Saudi-owned daily "Asharq al-Awsat" reported on its website on November 22.

It said Saudi forces foiled attempts by the Shi'ite rebels to gain control of Yemen's Red Sea port of Midi, in a coastal area near the border where Saudi Arabia has imposed a naval blockade to stop weapons being smuggled to insurgents.

Saudi air force planes took part in operations in the border area, where the Yemeni rebels launched an attack on Saudi border guards earlier this month, the website said.

The rebels' November 3 cross-border raid into Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, raised concerns about the wider impact of instability in Yemen, one of the poorest nations outside Africa.

In August, Yemen stepped up its military campaign against the rebels, who belong to the Zaidi Shi'ite Muslim minority, after about five years of sporadic fighting with the group. The rebels say they suffer religious, economic, and social marginalisation and neglect in the poor Arab country.

Regional media reported on November 22 that the rebels launched hit-and-run attacks against advancing Yemeni troops.

Yemeni forces backed by artillery and tanks combed mountain regions in the north of the country, killing a number of rebels, Al Arabiya television reported.

The rebels said on their website they had captured several Saudi soldiers and killed and wounded an unspecified number of the troops whom they accused of trying to cross into Yemen.

"We again advise the Saudi regime to stop its unjustified aggression on Yemeni territory and to respect neighborly rights," said a statement on the rebels' website.

On November 20, Yemeni state media said troops foiled an attempt by rebel fighters to take over government buildings in the northern provincial capital of Saada.