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Yemen army kills 6 Al-Qaeda suspects in south

Yemen's army kills six suspected Al-Qaeda militants in the southern city of Zinjibar, a regular clash between US-backed government forces and Al-Qaeda militants who control several regions including Zinjibar

AFP , Thursday 29 Dec 2011
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Yemen's army killed six suspected Al-Qaeda militants in a Katyusha rocket attack on their hideout in the restive southern city of Zinjibar, an official said on Thursday.

"The army carried out heavy shelling using Katyusha rockets on a house in Zinjibar's east where Al-Qaeda militants were gathered to plot attacks on army units... killing six," said the official in the adjacent town of Jaar.

Among the dead were a Saudi and a Algerian, said the official, adding the house in which they were hiding was completely demolished in the attack that took place late on Wednesday.

An army official meanwhile said that five soldiers were also wounded in Wednesday clashes in Zinjibar and were taken to a military hospital in the main southern city of Aden.

Nearly 270 Yemeni soldiers have been killed in the battles that began in May with militants from the Partisans of Sharia, the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group that took over most of Zinjibar, according to an army toll.

At least 400 extremists were also killed during the same battles, according to local officials in the region.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people who have been displaced by the conflict in Zinjibar, Abyan's capital, announced they will march on foot from Aden to Zinjibar to demand an end to the fighting, organisers said in a statement.

The "March of Dignity" will take place on Saturday, the statement said.

In September, Ahmed al-Kahlani, Yemen's minister for parliamentary affairs who is responsible for overseeing Abyan's Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), said more than 100,000 Yemenis have been displaced by the conflict between the army and Islamist fighters.

He said the IDPs need urgent assistance and that more than 65 percent of them are living in schools in Aden.

The Islamist extremist network has turned 11 months of political turmoil in the country to its advantage, using the popular revolt against President Ali Abdullah Saleh to bolster its presence in southern and eastern Yemen.

Militants linked to Al-Qaeda control several regions and towns including Zinjibar, where they clash regularly with government forces and tribal auxiliaries.

Government forces are also sometimes supported by US drone strikes in their battle against the Partisans of Sharia.

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