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Yemen troops killed in attack on 'Qaeda militants'

Five soldiers were killed and another three were wounded in clashes between Yemeni army and militants linked to Al-Qaeda, a medical source said

AFP , Saturday 1 Oct 2011
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Five Yemeni soldiers were killed on Saturday in an attack on the southern city of Zinjibar during an operation aimed at rooting out militants linked to Al-Qaeda, a medical source said

The fighting comes a day after one of the extremist group's top leaders in the Arabian Peninsula country, US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, was killed in an apparent US drone strike.

"Five soldiers were killed and another three were wounded in clashes in the Bajdar district of Zinjibar," the medical source told AFP. Residents confirmed there had been shooting in the area.

On Friday, a military official reported one soldier had been killed and six presumed Al-Qaeda fighters wounded in a firefight in the Kud area south of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.

The military official also said five militants were killed in an air raid on the same day.

Hundreds of militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) group overran Zinjibar in May, and the city and adjacent towns have since been the scene of bitter fighting with the army.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of nearly nine months of sweeping unrest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh to bolster its presence in the restive south and east Yemen, launching regular attacks.

On Friday -- the same day Awlaqi was killed -- AQAP issued a new claim of responsibility for deadly attacks.

In a statement received by AFP in the main southern Yemeni city Aden, the group said it was behind a series of attacks in the south, but made no mention of Awlaqi's death in an air strike east of Sanaa.

AQAP said it had killed 130 Yemeni troops in an attack on a garrison in Zinjibar, east of Aden, on September 14.

It said it had killed two Yemeni soldiers in an attack on September 11 and 10 in another the following day.

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