Security forces shot Abd Allah al-Ruzami on Tuesday but lost five of their own men, raising the toll to at least 146 after two weeks of clashes in the mountainous Saada province in northern Yemen.

A military spokesman described al-Ruzami as "one of the biggest al-Huthi supporters", adding that five soldiers died and another five were wounded.
   
The government accuses al-Huthi of setting up unlicensed religious centres in various provinces and forming an underground group which has staged violent protests against the United States and Israel.
   
President Ali Abd Allah Salih has urged the fugitive to turn himself in and end the fighting, which has claimed the lives of 109 rebels and 37 government troops. 
   
More arrested

Sources close to al-Huthi have put the toll from the clashes, which began on 20 June at a place 240km north of the capital Sanaa, at about 200.

A government spokesman said hundreds more of his supporters have been wounded or arrested or have surrendered to the authorities.
   
Anti-US sentiment in the region is high because of the US-led occupation of Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.